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HypnoBirthing Story

Maddie’s HypnoBirthing Story: Podcast Episode #81

Today our former birth client and HypnoBirthing student, Maddie Kioski, tells us her personal pregnancy journey using HypnoBirthing and how it helped her feel excited about labor and delivery instead of scared.  You can listen to this completed podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Maddie Kioski.  She is a former HypnoBirthing student of Gold Coast and also my birth client.  Good to see you!  It’s been a while.

Maddie:  You, too!  It’s been so long.  We just had the third year birthday for Charlie, so three years!

Kristin:  That is so amazing!  I love following all of your adventures on Facebook.  So, Maddie, let us know a little bit about your HypnoBirthing experience and why you chose HypnoBirthing and what it did for you.  We’ll have another episode coming up about your actual birth story, but this is focused on the class.

Maddie:  I’m lucky to have two older sisters who were very instrumental in that they both researched natural birthing and all of that, so before I ever got pregnant, I was kind of familiar.  The middle sister took a HypnoBirthing class in Atlanta, so when I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to go for a natural birth, so I started researching in our area.  I found you guys, and I found speed-dating with the doulas, and so I was like, oh, perfect.  And I saw you guys did the HypnoBirthing classes, so once I came and met you guys, I was sold.  I knew for sure this is what I want to do.  So my husband and I did the weekends class, so we had just longer weekend classes.  When we started, he was not totally sold on it, but he said, well, if you want to do, then of course we’ll go and we’ll do it together.  I actually really enjoyed having the weekend class.  For me, it was a long period instead of the shorter periods; you could really focus on it and really get in depth.

Kristin:  Did you do any preparation knowing that it was a very time-intensive class versus being spread out for five weeks?  Did you read the book in advance?  Did you do any preparation?

Maddie:  I didn’t.  We came to the class, and then we would read after class on the way home; we’d read on the way to class, and then we’d do some in the interim before the next week.  I just knew this is what I wanted to do.  I can’t remember; I think I was maybe five months when I started.

Kristin:  That sounds about right.  Yeah, I remember there was some time before your due date.

Maddie:  Yeah.  So we started listening to the rainbow relaxion every night.  It was weeks before I even knew there was a rainbow in it; I just fell asleep every time.  But my husband listened to it every single night, so he was pretty familiar.

Kristin:  It’s good to fall asleep to.  It means that you’re getting in that fully relaxed state.

Maddie:  Right.  So I think what was really, really helpful for me in the classes was reframing how you think about birth.   That was really helpful for me.  Instead of saying Braxton-Hicks, it was practice labor.  This is natural and normal and healthy; really understanding that trusting my body to do what it needed to do; trusting my baby, that he was going to be able to do what he needed to do.  Reframing all of those words was really, really helpful for me.

Kristin:  Yeah, I’m all about the impact of language.  Even the contraction; you think of it being intense and tightening up, but in labor, you want to be relaxed or it’s just going to be more uncomfortable and take longer, so calling it a surge, for example, and viewing the wave-like motion of labor.

Maddie:  And I also think what was really helpful for me is understanding what’s actually happening with your body and the different phases and knowing — I felt very internal when I was going through it, and so knowing what was going to happen and having learned about all the physical physiology, hormones, and all of that — I felt was really helpful to just kind of put my mind at ease and feel more prepared about what was going to happen and what I could expect.  And I think being able to relax and feel more relaxed about it also let me feel a little free with, if something doesn’t go exactly how I want it to go, that’s okay.  We have another plan.  We know if it’s an emergent situation, things are going to have to change, but feeling more relaxed about the birthing process allowed me to feel relaxed about letting go of exactly how things were going to happen.

Kristin:  Right.  And there are some misconceptions about HypnoBirthing only being for home birthers.  You birthed in the hospital?

Maddie:  Yes.

Kristin:  And you were able to apply what you learned in class?

Maddie:  Absolutely.  I took an old phone with me and I had my rainbow relaxation, and I had some other music on there and the affirmation track, and so I was playing those while I was at the hospital.  Even just something like keeping the lights down low to allow a more relaxed atmosphere, to allow your hormones to really react to the calm environment rather than bright lights and people coming in and out.  I mean, you can change your environment when you have the knowledge of what it should be to help your birth go more easily.  So that was helpful.  And I was fortunate to go to Spectrum Butterworth, and you can labor in the tub there and all of that, and they have a lot more training as far as helping women through a natural birth.

Kristin:  Yeah, your provider makes a difference; a supportive hospital and their policies and procedures make a big difference in being able to achieve HypnoBirthing in the hospital.

Maddie:  What was helpful as well: I did do a lot of research as far as who I wanted as a provider and selecting a provider that you guys have worked with a lot and a lot of other moms in the area have recommended, so they were more familiar with HypnoBirthing, too, and they understand it more and understand what a natural birth looks like.

Kristin:  And it can be much different to observe someone who is internally focused if a provider is not familiar with HypnoBirthing.

Maddie:  Right, exactly, and not feeling forced to respond and explain what’s happening and just allowing your body to do the work that it needs to do, allowing your baby to do the work that they need to do.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Was there anything from the class that didn’t sit with you?  I always say, take what you like from a class or experience and then discard the rest.  Was there anything that didn’t resonate with you immediately?

Maddie:  I responded well to a lot of the self-hypnosis kind of techniques, but we didn’t end up really using those a ton when we were actually going through the birth process.  We did a lot of focusing on breathing because that’s where I really ended up struggling was just calming down and getting those deep breaths in and having my husband understand what needed to happen; understand I needed to be breathing to get that oxygen in for baby, too, and help calm my body down.  He was a fantastic birth partner.

Kristin:  I remember that about your birth, for sure.  He’s a very supportive partner.

Maddie:  He was really involved, and we felt really connected after, so that was beautiful.  And I know some people did a fear release, and for me, that didn’t really work, I feel like, as well for me.  I think it would be really helpful for some people, but my main concerns were that I get migraines, and they’re really bad, and I’ve had kidney stones and they’re really bad, and so I felt like, oh, man, if I can’t handle those, am I going to be able to do a natural birth?  So I think what helped more was just understanding how the birth process works, and then I talked with some other moms who also struggled with those same health issues, and they were able to help calm my fears, as well.  Understanding that your body is putting out all that love hormone; you’re not going to be getting a migraine.  Your body is protecting you from that; it’s focused on what needs to happen.  So the actual fear release part, I didn’t really use that as much.

Kristin:  And one thing about the HypnoBirthing class that’s helpful is you work on your birth preference sheet or birth plan.  Was that helpful in having discussions with your providers during your pregnancy?

Maddie:  Extremely helpful.  I think it was almost more helpful for my husband and I to kind of give us a guideline of what we need to focus on.  With HypnoBirthing, we had informed choice, really; here are evidence-based articles that you can read about these certain preferences that you can choose from.  That was helpful for us to talk about.  My providers were so wonderful, though; I just kind of was like, well, here’s my sheet, and they were like, yep, these all look great.

Kristin:  Whatever you want!

Maddie:  So that was helpful.  But I would say I had a shift change, and so I think what would have been helpful that I didn’t realize was making sure, when we did that shift change, that the other nurse made sure to read the birth preferences.  I had put on there that I didn’t want coached pushing, and so when she came in, I don’t think that she had really read it necessarily, and so then they were pretty focused on that.

Kristin:  That can be challenging, the timing.

Maddie:  I was just trying to block that out.  You were helpful, and the midwife and my husband were all talking about breathing and getting those breaths in, and that was helpful.

Kristin:  Great.  Any other tips or advice for anyone considering HypnoBirthing?

Maddie:  I think it was so helpful and such a bonding experience that I feel — I felt prepared and I felt excited to give birth.  I think so many women go into it feeling scared and saying, give me drugs; they just feel from the beginning that I’m not going to be able to do it.  And after going through HypnoBirthing and really understanding the process, understanding and getting to a point where I trust my body and trust my baby; it’s natural; it’s normal; it’s healthy.  I was so excited!  I was so excited to go in and give birth.

Kristin:  I could tell that; I could see it and feel it.

Maddie:  And you can know, okay, it’s not going to be a walk in the park, but it was beautiful, and I feel so fortunate to have had such a wonderful first birth experience.

Kristin:  Do you use any of the breathing or relaxation techniques in general life or parenting?

Maddie:  I do, actually, do a lot of deep breathing when I feel frustrated and I need to take a step away and focus internally; do some breath depths; focus on a relaxing color.

Kristin:  I do that with my kids.  I get them to use HypnoBirthing and the birth breaths and the relaxation.  For me, I have a fear of the dentist, so I’ve used it at the dentist!  Yeah, it’s very helpful.  Well, it’s so good to have you on, and we’ll talk about your actual birth story shortly.

Maddie:  I’m excited!

Kristin:  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas!  Remember, these moments are golden.

 

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Sleep Consultant

Megan’s Sleep Story: Podcast Episode #80

Megan Kretz, one of Alyssa’s sleep clients, tells us about her sleep training journey with her daughter at 9 months and again at 19 months.  She says that as a working mom, it meant spending a little less time with her daughter, but that it was all worth it because the quality of the time spent together improved drastically.  Everyone was happier and healthier!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas Podcast.  I am Alyssa, and today I’m excited to be talking to Megan Kretz.  You were one of my past sleep clients, and then again recently.

Megan:  Yeah, thanks for having me on!

Alyssa:  Yes, we’re going to talk about sleep today.  So remind me of how this journey began and what was happening before you called me.

Megan:  So we reached out to you about when my daughter was nine months old with just all sorts of life problems as a result of my daughter’s sleep habits and our sleep habits, as well.  A lot of it was definitely a struggle because we almost created the environment, the problem, that we found ourselves in.

Alyssa:  Unknowingly.

Megan:  Yes, unknowingly.

Alyssa:  I mean, you don’t realize it when you’re doing it.  You’re in survival mode.

Megan:  Right.  Before the age of eight months, my daughter had had five ear infections, and so we were in and out of doctors’ offices, on and off antibiotics, and because of that, she was in a lot of pain.  She was seeking comfort because we could never get her comfortable.  So in doing so, we just ended up creating all these really bad sleep habits.  Falling asleep with us, on us, whatever we could do to allow mom and dad and baby to get some sort of rest.  Up probably eleven times at night breastfeeding, and then wouldn’t take naps during the day; was up all day except for two 45-minute naps at the age of six, seven months old.  Where our thoughts were going at that point was that she wasn’t developing properly without proper sleep.  We couldn’t go on date nights.  Nobody else could put my daughter down to sleep except me, not even her dad.  We couldn’t go two hours for a movie on the couch without my daughter waking up, and it was getting to a point where, looking into the future, I don’t know how we would have gone much longer with the way that things were.  And I had heard about you guys before, and finally I ended up going on the website, and I saw that you guys offer the sleep consultations.  I was hesitant at first, but oh my gosh…

Alyssa:  Didn’t she take to it, like, the first night?

Megan:  Oh, yeah!  The first night when we went through all of that — but I felt super needy with you.

Alyssa:  No, you weren’t at all!

Megan:  Texting you all the time!  The first night, we had to go in and out, in and out a lot, but by the second night — she was almost there on the first night, and the second night, she was like, bam, done.  She was like, I got this, Mom!  I’m going to be your sleep champ from now on!

Alyssa:  And kids always surprise parents.  They want to sleep so bad, and once we just get them on a schedule, it just happens so much more quickly and easily than a lot of parents expect.

Megan:  A lot of other working parents might find themselves in the same situation or scared on what they’re going to end up doing.  I learned that so much of her night sleep is dependent on her daytime sleep and her nap schedule.  She went to a daycare facility, and they had also used the same crutches we had to get her to sleep, and I was just nervous about that whole transition and really needing her to take proper naps in order to accomplish what we needed to at night.  And in the end, we sorted out some schedules.  We had some people that came and helped us and pulled her out of daycare for a week.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I remember that.  You had somebody stay at the house, because that first week is pretty critical, and when you have two parents working full time, you can’t just take a week off.

Megan:  No, you can’t!

Alyssa:  To have your baby sleep.  That’s not feasible.  But yeah, you had a trusted babysitter come over, right?

Megan:  Yeah, and I don’t remember how many days it was.

Alyssa:  Oh, you had a doula come, too, for a couple days, didn’t you?

Megan:  No.  Well, you…

Alyssa:  Must have been another client.  Sometimes they’ll hire a doula to come stay either during the day overnight.

Megan:  I remember you said there are so many days that it takes of consistent behavior development to actually –

Alyssa:  Until it becomes a habit.

Megan:  Yeah, until it becomes normal for them.  So we just had to get through that, and we did.

Alyssa:  Well, and especially because she was going to daycare.  Daycare can totally muck things up, especially if it’s a large one and not an in-home daycare but a large one where they have 20 kids and maybe 15 of them are in the nursery, and they’re just, like, this is naptime, and if they’re not sleeping, we get them up, because we don’t want them waking the other babies up.

Megan:  Well, that’s what part of the problem was is that she was in the nursery, and there’s 12 other babies in that room, and they all share a crib room together.  And they couldn’t get her to sleep, and then she was waking up other babies.  It was all downhill from there.

Alyssa:  So they just say, all right, nap’s done.

Megan:  Yep.

Alyssa:  But after that five days of a consistent pattern, then she’s going to go back to daycare, and her body’s already on the schedule and already has a rhythm set, and it’s much easier to go back into that daycare environment and tell them, now she sleeps from this time to this time, and if she wakes up early, here’s what you have to do.

Megan:  And daycare, you know, they made their own adjustments for what worked for them, too, so I gave them our schedule, but then they actually removed her from a crib and put her on a toddler sleep mat.  They’re raised little beds, and I had to get a doctor’s note, but at the age of ten months, nine months, she was actually the only child in the room for months that slept on a cot.

Alyssa:  Oh, so she was in her own room?

Megan:  She wasn’t.  She was blocked off from the other kids.  So yeah, she was in a room by herself, but she was kind of blocked off with some shelving units so the other kids didn’t get all up in her business when she was sleeping.  But she was on a cot, and that worked best for her because they found that she was anxious in the room with all the other kids in the cribs because all of her past memories were coming up, so changing her sleep environment was also to let them work according to the sleep plan, as well.  So it ended up working well that way, and she ended up moving up into the next toddler room already on the cot where most babies have to go through this learning period for that.

Alyssa:  So I remember in the beginning, you kind of struggled.  You had this tug-of-war within yourself of, gosh, she’s sleeping amazing now, but now I miss these cuddles that I get at night.

Megan:  Yeah, I remember that!

Alyssa:  It was like, we have to find a balance here.  It’s hard to go from being used to her there all the time, but that’s part of the problem is that she’s there all the time and nobody can sleep.

Megan:  And at night when I’m giving her cuddles, she’s giving me cuddles, too.

Alyssa:  Yeah, it’s hard to just let that go.

Megan:  And then don’t forget about the readjustment to milk supply.  That was a big thing, as well.

Alyssa:  Yeah, breastfeeding changes.  Your body eventually fixes itself…

Megan:  But it takes a little while and some uncomfortable days.

Alyssa:  Yeah, you’ll wake up leaking everywhere.  I’ve told moms to sleep on towels for a couple nights if needed!

Megan:  Oh, yeah, been there, done that!

Alyssa:  Yeah, so we talked about, early in the morning when she wakes up, get some cuddles in, and then spend the weekends, like Saturday and Sunday mornings, just make that cuddle time in bed to get all that oxytocin, all these great hormones that you guys are sharing when you get these cuddles.

Megan:  It’s funny that you say that because it’s almost a tradition now that she’s older.  She calls her pacifier her “oh, no” because when she can’t find it and she’s upset, it’s an oh, no situation.  So she has to leave her “oh, no” in her crib, and then we go and get a bottle of milk, and I ask her if she wants to snuggle.  Sometimes I get her out of the crib and she’s like, “Snuggle!” because that’s our time together.  So we do that when we’re reading books before bedtime now, because we no longer breastfeed or give her a bottle before bed, so we just read books and snuggle for five, ten minutes, and then in the crib she goes.  And then in the morning it’s a good cuddle time, and I wake up a little bit early and get ready before she’s up so that I’m not rushed for time to get ready.  Either my husband or I will devote that time to her.

Alyssa: That’s really smart.  I was just talking to somebody earlier about the fact that sometimes kids are just waking up because they want to see you, so especially as a parent who works full time, you already have this guilt of, I haven’t seen my child all day, and now they’re sleeping all night by themselves, which is great, but when do I get to see them?  When do I get to cuddle them?  So when you do a nighttime routine and then in the morning, put that phone away.  Don’t make the TV part of this process.  Put that kid on your lap; cuddle; kiss.  Read the book, whatever.  Just get all the snuggles in you can.  They get 30 minutes of your undivided attention, and they don’t know if it’s any different than eight hours. To them it’s just that mom and dad are here and loving on me, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Megan:  I agree, and it was hard being a working mom when we were going through all of this because the time with her became less because the night wakings weren’t there.  But the quality increased.  Her behavior got a lot better.  And I am a better mom by being a working mom because I can devote my attention better if I have some things that I do on my own, if I have a work life, as well.  So I didn’t want to give that up, but readjusting and figuring out the quality time was a lot better when she was rested and herself.

Alyssa:  That’s the key, yeah.

Megan:  And it really shines this whole idea even more when we recently went on vacation, and it was a struggle because we were in a new environment.  She was in her own bed, but we had to share a room with her, and although all that went fine, her behavior was like she was truly in the terrible twos.  She’s only 21 months old now, but everything changed because we tried to stick to the schedule, but you’re on vacation, so there’s only so much that you can do.  So immediately on the day that we returned from this week-long vacation, and she’s sleeping in her own environment and we’re right back to the same routine, it was immediate behavior change, and it just solidifies even more how important a sleep plan is and how important it is to make sure that they get the sleep that they need.

Alyssa:  They thrive on it, and we think that we’re doing them a favor by letting them stay up late to play with their friends.  Or the 4th of July; it’s not even dark for fireworks until 10:00; what am I going to do?  We’re not doing them or ourselves any favors by letting them stay up because usually they’re a wreck for two days after that.  They’re not going to sleep in the next day.  More than likely. They’re going to be up early the next morning.  It affects them so opposite of the logical thinking.  But yeah, that’s the key.  You’ve hit the nail on the head; you have to readjust and understand that you have less time together, but it’s more quality time, and her entire world has changed.  She’s happier, healthier, developing at a better rate because we all need sleep for that to happen.

Megan:  It’s funny that you brought up the whole fact that readjusting and going to parties and not keeping them up late and whatnot — it’s funny because it’s easy for my husband and I to say sorry, we’re leaving at 7:30 or 7:00 or 6:30, whatever we have to do, to get home and start the bedtime routine.  The hardest part about all of that is not leaving early; it’s convincing your family members and your friends that this is what you’re going to do and that this is important to you and your family, because it’s almost like they’re the ones pressuring you to alter your child’s sleep schedule.  So that’s come up a few times, especially around the holidays when your family members do holiday parties or gift openings starting at 6:00, and bedtime routine starts at 6:30.  You’re like, sorry, guys, we can’t come.

Alyssa:  Right, unless you want to bring a pack and play and put her to bed there.

Megan:  Which we’ve done.  When she was young enough, we did that, and that was fine.  We do that sometimes with friends where we go over and put her to sleep in the pack and play.  We try to avoid that as much as possible, and now that our friends have kids or are having kids, we schedule things at 2:00 in the afternoon instead.  Dinner parties go from 3:00 to 7:00; they don’t go from 7:00 to 11:00.

Alyssa:  Yeah, that is the hardest part, because you have to be so consistent, and when you get those dirty looks or the weird looks from your friends, like why do they always have to leave so early, it makes you kind of feel bad, but you know it’s worth it.  You’re doing this because it’s worth it.

Megan:  Yep, it is.

Alyssa:  So then you called me again recently…

Megan:  I did!

Alyssa:  She was sleeping great, and then you made a pretty big transition.  Tell me about that.

Megan:  Yeah.  She was always a little bit ahead of the other kids as far as walking and crawling and climbing and running, so she eventually started climbing out of her crib, and we started getting very nervous about possible injuries.  Quite a few times, on the video in her room, we’d see her sitting on the edge of the crib, just teetering there.  My husband really pushed for a change because we can’t be doing this.  So we actually ended up moving her into a big kid bed at the age of 19 months.  And I’m trying to take what I learned with you from when she was nine months and trying to apply it to a child that’s now a toddler.  And it wasn’t working.  And that’s when we contacted you and learned about how kids don’t learn about delay of gratification until they’re three years old.  So she doesn’t understand what it means when we tell that if you stay in bed all night, we get special time together in the morning.

Alyssa:  It makes no sense.  She doesn’t understand that concept whatsoever.

Megan:  No.  And she can get in and out of the toddler bed.  Yeah, she may not be falling out of it now, but my husband and I went back to doing whatever we’ve got to do to get this child to sleep.  So her nighttimes got shorter because we ended up staying in bed and laying with her until she fell asleep.  Our bedtime routine went to two hours; from twenty minutes to two hours.  And then she wouldn’t sleep a full eleven hours at night, and then her nap became elongated to three hours.  We were on a waitlist for a daycare at the time, so we had to hire a nanny for a couple months.  And it was funny because we were paying her for an eight-hour day when our daughter is sleeping for three of them!  Just kind of a funny fact.  But we went right back to, oh my gosh, what do we do?  A year later, I’m finding your email address and saying help!  Is there anything that you can help us with?  And then when you sent us our new sleep plan and we saw that there are clear ways to help a child stay in the bed and to go right back into a routine for this next stage of a child’s life, and that babies aren’t the same as toddlers.  It was eye-opening again when we saw the second plan, and you had so much good information in there!

Alyssa:  I always wonder if it’s too much.

Megan:  No!

Alyssa:  I geek out on sleep information, so I give my clients so much information.  I think it’s imperative!

Megan:  My husband even brought up later on about something else in the sleep plan that wasn’t related to sleep.  Oh, it was snacking!  You had said — and it’s so true.  A lot of times, we were just allowing her to snack a lot, and we didn’t have set meals, necessarily.  Yeah, she ate meals with us, but we allowed her to snack more than we snacked, not even thinking about how that might be tied into sleep or protein intake at certain times of the day and how that aids in sleep patterns.  We had no idea.  I was giving her a snack, and my husband actually said to me, don’t you remember reading that on Alyssa’s sleep plan?

Alyssa:  That’s great!  That’s what it’s there for!

Megan:  Yeah, it was a lot of great information.  And there’s just something special about receiving this information from a local person, from you, a person, and not a book I just pulled off the shelf at the library that might be outdated.  You really cater our sleep plans to us, to the client and to the child, and having come in to our home, you knew us.  You looked for things that might be distractions for quality sleep and taught us how to do a proper nighttime routine.  Although it was a lot of information at one time, it was well-received, and we felt very — I don’t know if qualified is the right word, but we got the information we needed to then make good, informed decisions.

Alyssa:  And be confident.

Megan:  Yes, we got the confidence.

Alyssa:  Even though I’m with you — you’re texting me all the time; I’m responding back; I’m there for guidance — but I’m not there forever.  So that’s why I want you to have enough information that you can say, oh, okay, she’s twelve months now.  Oh, yeah, she told me that this would probably happen around 12 months.  Because I learned this when she was nine months, that’s what this means at 12 months.  You have to be able to troubleshoot yourself or you’re just going to keep calling me every three months at every developmental milestone, saying what do I do?  Help!

Megan:  And it’s funny because we went back to your sleep plan multiple times between 9 months and 15 months to just look and what did she say when she reaches this age group; how much sleep will she need; what are her naps supposed to look like?  So we definitely referenced it.  But being in a new bed, when all that came up… And the plans themselves were very different.

Alyssa:  Yeah, sleep is very different for a two-year-old versus a nine-month-old.

Megan:  Yeah.  But now, after day one of the new sleep plan, we got her back in the crib.  It was like she never forgot it.  She was in the big girl bed for probably four weeks.

Alyssa:  So you’re thinking, oh, great, even if we try this plan, she’s ruined.  We’re going to have to start all over.

Megan:  Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought, but no, her sleep habits came right back.  We were able to get her nap back down to a normal, respectable time, and she’s back to sleeping eleven, twelve hours at night with no interruptions.  We can go back to watching movies and having quality time together with my husband.

Alyssa:  And for date nights, babysitters are easy?

Megan:  Oh, babysitters can put her sleep again.  I’m not asking a babysitter to sleep with her for two hours.

Alyssa:  “You’re going to have to lay in this bed with her, sorry!”

Megan:  And then ever so slightly, quietly creep out as quiet as possible!

Alyssa:  It’s like the ninja role.  Like, you kind of slowly roll of the bed, and you keep a hand there for pressure and you slowly lift your hand up.

Megan:  Make sure the dog is quiet when you’re moving around so its nail don’t click-clack on the hardwood floors and wake her up!  Oh, I better put some WD40 on that door!  Yeah, those were all things that were happening and going through our head.  I’m laughing and I’m making a joke about it, but those were legitimate concerns of mine when we had her in the big girl bed and all of this was going on.  Call me crazy, but that’s how you feel when you and your child aren’t getting sleep.

Alyssa:  Well, you are a bit crazy.  I mean, sleep deprivation does not make for a sound mental state!

Megan:  And now I just can’t believe how much you guys have been able to help us.  Maybe my experience can help other people.  I’ve referred quite a few people over your way.

Alyssa:  Thank you!

Megan:  I just can’t reiterate enough how much you guys helped us and how worth it it is.

Alyssa:  it’s definitely a service that I could literally call life changing.

Megan:  Yes!  I would call it that, as well!  In fact, I think I’ve left reviews stating that!

Alyssa:  Well, if you had one thing that anyone who has pushed off sleep training would need to hear, what do you think it would be?

Megan:  It’s worth it.  It is what’s best for baby.  It’s what best for you and your family unit.

Alyssa:  And what if they’re scared?  Sleep training just causes anxiety.  Those two words; people just think oh, this just sounds like it’s going to be a miserable experience.  My child is going to be left alone; they’re going to have anxiety.

Megan:  But she wasn’t left alone.  The plan you gave us; that wasn’t the case, and you told me right from the beginning, before I even paid for anything, that we will do a plan according to what is comfortable for you.  And I was totally okay with the plan.  And what’s the worst that could happen?  She wakes up 12 times at night versus 11?  No, that’s not even going to be a possibility.  We were so far down the rabbit hole that there was no getting deeper.  We were hitting bedrock.  So it could only get better at this point, and it did.  It was a complete 180.

Alyssa:  Well, I loved working with your family both times.  You probably won’t need me again because she’s great.  Don’t put her in that toddler bed until she’s three.

Megan:  We won’t!

Alyssa:  You’ll know when she’s ready!

Megan:  We will definitely wait.  Now we have just over a year before we have to make any new changes to sleep, but now I have the tools, too, to be able to transfer her to a big girl bed

Alyssa:  Yeah, did I give some info to plan for?

Megan:  You did, yeah!

Alyssa:  Oh, good.  I figured I did, but…

Megan:  But this isn’t the end, Alyssa!  I’m sure that we will see each other again and talk to each other again!

Alyssa:  Well, on that note — because you might be adopting?

Megan:  Yeah.

Alyssa:  So I’m going to talk to you again at a later time about what an adoption process looks like because I don’t know, and a lot of our listeners and parents probably don’t know and maybe are even thinking about it but might be scared.  SO we’ll talk about that next time.

Megan:  I’d love to help you with some insight on there.

Alyssa:  Thanks for joining us!

Megan:  Yeah, thank you for having me!

Alyssa:  If you have any questions for us, you can email as at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.  Thanks, and remember, these moments are golden.

 

Megan’s Sleep Story: Podcast Episode #80 Read More »

Postpartum Depression

Supporting a Postpartum Mother: Podcast Episode #79

Elsa Lockman, LMSW of Mindful Counseling talks to us today about how partners, family members, and other caregivers can support a mother during those critical postpartum weeks to ensure she seeks help if needed.  How do you approach a new mother and what are her best options for care?  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Elsa Lockman.  She’s with Mindful Counseling, and we are talking about how partners and other caregivers and family members can support a woman who has potential signs of postpartum depression or mood disorders.

Elsa:  Yes.  So postpartum is going to be an emotional time, so tears, some anger, sadness, are all part of the experience.  After about two to three weeks out, if spouse or a friend or a mother is noticing maybe a mom is crying more than usual, isn’t really looking forward to things, has these unusual fears that they can’t seem to let go of.  Another sign would be not seeming to eat very much or either sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep when the baby is sleeping.  If they’re noticing those signs, it would maybe be a sign that they could go talk to somebody as far as a therapist or go see their doctor.  Approaching Mom would be in a way to not criticize mom as if she’s doing anything wrong.  She’s not doing anything wrong, so start off with validating, actually.  She’s doing a great job with how hard it is; validate how hard she’s working, and try to tell her that it doesn’t have to be this way.  She doesn’t have to do it alone.

Kristin:  How does the caregiver know if it is baby blues or if it’s something that she needs help for?  Because, of course, there can be that hormonal fluctuation.  They may be teary.

Elsa:  Baby blues usually stops after three weeks postpartum.  So after that would be maybe a sign that there’s more going on.  But I would say, is it getting it the way of functioning?  Is it getting in the way of relationships?  Is it getting in the way of their working in the home or outside of the home, getting those things done?  To a degree, that is expected postpartum; not everything running smoothly, but are relationships being affected?  Those would be signs that it’s more than just baby blues.

Kristin:  How can a spouse, partner, or caregiver be supportive in order to empower her to get help?  Is it best for them to directly reach out for help for her if they’re seeing signs, or what do you recommend?

Elsa:  I recommend the mom reaching out, so that would be encouraging Mom to reach out herself.  And maybe she needs to talk to a friend and have more time with friends or more time to herself; maybe that would help.  See how that works.  If that seems to help and is enough to alleviate whatever stress is going on, then that works, but maybe if it’s not working, then take it to another level, which would be contacting a therapist or your doctor.

Kristin:  And since, obviously, women have multiple doctors — they’re seeing their OB or midwife and family doctor and their pediatrician — does it matter who they’re speaking with about getting help?

Elsa:  No, it wouldn’t matter who you see.  Usually the OB would be the person that they’ve seen most recently, but they can even bring it up to the pediatrician, since moms see the pediatrician very often.

Kristin:  And as far as getting help for our local listeners and clients, they can reach out to you directly?  How do they access you at Mindful Counseling, Elsa?

Elsa:  They can go to the website, and they can contact me through there.  Another resource would be Pine Rest, and through your OB’s office, there also is a list of therapists who specialize in perinatal mood disorders, which includes postpartum depression and anxiety.

Kristin:  That’s so helpful.  And in past conversations, you had mentioned that women can bring their babies to therapy; that you allow that with clients you’re working with, and I know Pine Rest encourages that with their mother-baby program?

Elsa:  Yes, for sure.  Bring your baby to the session; you can feed the baby, breastfeed, anything.  Coming with your baby is welcomed and encouraged, for sure.

Kristin:  Do you have any final thoughts or tips to share?

Elsa:  Just that it doesn’t have to be going through this alone.  It’s very normalized for women to feel that anxiety is just part of the postpartum experience or feeling depressed and stressed is part of it, and while it might be a new phase and there’s a lot going on, it doesn’t have to be that women are just suffering through it.

Kristin:  Great point.  Thanks so much, Elsa, for being on!

 

Supporting a Postpartum Mother: Podcast Episode #79 Read More »

Connies Bridal Boutique

The Minority Bride: Podcast Episode #78

 


Alyssa:
Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas. It’s Alyssa and I’m talking with Gaby again if you remember her. Last time she told us her lovely birth stories. Hi Gaby.

Gaby: Hi Alyssa, good to be back.

Alyssa: I want to learn about your business. So Connie’s Bridal Boutique.

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Who’s Connie? Beause you’re not Connie.

Gaby: No. We’re not Connie. Connie’s actually the name that the original owner gave the store, it was her nickname. Her original name was Veit Vu, she’s a cute little Vietnamese lady. Maybe 5 feet.

Alyssa: Okay.

Gaby: She was a powerhouse of a woman. These dresses get heavy, so you’d just see her hauling dresses back and forth. My grandmother used to work with her and when she decided to retire we purchased the brand and the store.

Alyssa: Okay.

Gaby: And we kind of molded it a little bit more towards our personalities, and growth, and developed it a little bit further.

Alyssa: Okay. So I’ve been in your store. It’s huge! It’s not little, it’s huge. I walked in and I’m like, “Oh my God! Look at all this space.”

Gaby: Yes!

Alyssa: So tell me what did you change? What’s your target market? Do you have a certain type of dress? Do you kind of focus on one area or is it a pretty broad range?

Gaby: Yeah, when we originally bought the store, if we’re getting down to nitty gritty business, we used to be on 44th and Kalamazoo. I think that was her second or third location. The target audience when we originally bought it, was for brides looking for dresses and formal gowns from $100 to, I think it was, $800. Around there. We began molding it to a little bit of a higher price range, just because that good chunk of $100 – $800 dresses, a lot of that is online. So it’s not really long term, sustainable, at least for how we run it. Which is a lot of sample and special orders, we don’t have stock of the same dress in 30 sizes.

Alyssa: Okay.

Gaby: We might have a couple in a small and a large, but most of what we do is a custom dress, custom measurements, custom length. We specialize in that and customizations, custom additions, and our clientele is the minority bride. That falls in so many categories. It could be “last minute,” so less than 6 months. We often do weddings like 2 weeks, 1 week, we can have a quick turn around time. My grandmother is magic as far as alterations! Our formal bridal gowns are anywhere from $600 to $3,000 – $5,000. We’re kind of snug in the middle between David’s and then you have the beautiful Renee Austin and Becker’s, who is on the higher end.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: We’re kind of snug in the middle for our minority brides and whether that be size, whether that’s brides that purchase and then they go and get married and they have beautiful African ceremonies in Africa, so that’s kind of the whole other package. Beause they’re buying for people where bridesmaids aren’t all here. We serve a lot of our “minority brides” that have that spunky and creative need.

Alyssa: Okay. Yeah, when I went in it was your grandmother and your mother.

Gaby: Yes!

Alyssa: You said sometimes your sister’s even there?

Gaby: Sometimes my sister’s there. On Saturdays, it’s me and my sister comes to help on and off. I kind of finagled my way to be like, “Grandma you can take Saturdays off and I’ll be here on Saturdays.” So now she’s there Monday through Friday, which is when our alterations and more complicated orders if she needs to kind of see as far as detailed illusion neckline, or anything like that. Then we’ll see them Monday through Friday and on Saturday we’re just seeing brides in their beginning phases and if they need basic fittings, then I can, of course, do that. I can fit you and pin you, but if anyone’s cutting your dress, it’s her.

Alyssa: It’s gonna be grandma.

Gaby: Yeah, it’s gonna be grandma!

Alyssa: So we learned last time that you have two children. How do you balance a three-year-old, a six-year-old, and helping to run a bridal shop?

Gaby: Yeah, I’m extremely lucky in the flexibility that not only working with my grandmother but having … working with my grandmother in our own business, close to home. So it’s kind of like a great little triangle of support. So she definitely wanted to see the grandkids, so when I had my first daughter and even with my son, I think I worked up until a couple of days before I gave birth. If not, the day before. I was very active, I don’t like to just down. When I gave birth, it was strap them up, literally carried them on and off up until they got too big to be carried. That was great! I could bring them in whenever and if I really couldn’t bring them in, I didn’t have to come into work. It wasn’t like I had to bring in a doctor’s note, and then I could work from home or work on off days. So I can move my schedule around pretty freely. So that’s definitely been a great opportunity for me to work, but also raise my kids and be as involved as I need to be or they want me to be. If they want to go chaperone, it’s great during the week because we’re not too busy. So I can say, “Hey, I’m not gonna be here until… today or until next time. I’m gonna go in the morning, I’m gonna be with my daughter or my son all day and then they can come back and work.” Sometimes work means I have to work until 9 or after they go to sleep, I’m gonna have to finish that, or I’m answering emails in the middle of the night.

Alyssa: Typical business owner stuff. I feel like I’m doing that all the time. You take out a chunk of time during the day to spend with friends, or family, or your children, and you always have to make up for it later.

Gaby: Right, you make up for it later.

Alyssa: That’s like the pros and cons, right? Of having your own business.

Gaby: Exactly. It’s definitely been a balance for them, as well. Because we open on Saturdays, so it’s not like we can just do all kinds of fun activities on Saturdays. My friends are like, “Oh, we’re having birthday parties.” And I’m like, “That’s great, but I’m at work.” So we can’t really just take that off. It’s Sundays. Everybody on Sunday kind of has a different schedule. In our industry, our busy time’s during the summer. So our vacations are in the winter.

Alyssa: Which is perfect! You want to get out of Michigan in the winter.

Gaby: We do! Everybody’s like, “You want to go to the beach?” I’m like, “Yes!”

Alyssa: On Sunday, I will!

Gaby: On Sunday, I will. Or Sunday usually ends up being trying to manage your household in half a day. Like a crazy person! That you have not been able to do the whole week. We kind of balance that out and my friends are like, “You never come out!” Like, it’s not really vacation ever for us, unless it’s winter. And during wintertime, regular jobs they’re still working, but we can be like, “Oh, we’ll take December off.” Because we’ve been working nonstop until December and we’ll just take a couple of weeks off. So it’s kind of a balance of where do you … it’s good to find other entrepreneurs because they have similar rhythms. Where it’s like, “I’m kind of just checking to see if you’re breathing for six months.” And then you can really hang out with them.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: During the slow time I’m like, “Just send a quick text like, ‘Hey, are you alive?” Yeah, we’re just working away. It’s been good to connect with other entrepreneurs and other busy moms that are kind of doing more.

Alyssa: Yeah and I think it’s important because we are definitely a specific breed of business owners and mothers. Because I might have, like this morning, I randomly had time to go for a walk around the lake and what did I do? I texted a bunch of people, but the only one that responded was the other mom who owns her own business. She was like, “Oh yeah, I can get out for an hour.” So it is good to have that network because otherwise you do kind of feel isolated. Thinking all of these other moms that work during the day and then at night maybe they want to get together, but that’s when I actually need to spend time with my kid.

Gaby: Right, right! That’s kid time. My free time could be, “Oh yeah, I can meet with you in the morning when the kids are at school.” I can kind of plan that out. But when I pick the kids up from school, I need to make sure that I’m with the kids because Saturday/Sunday. One day I was working on putting crystals on a dress and that was consecutive days of working past midnight. I think the kids came one day to the shop and they like slept in the stuff for a couple of hours. I’m just like, “We gotta get this done! We gotta get this done!” So we don’t have time blocks, it’s definitely an adventure to find people that match your schedules. Also interests, but also match the schedule of when you can free time and then understand that maybe I will be free three Sundays in a row, maybe you won’t see me for 5 months.

Alyssa: Yeah, I used to be able to plan ahead. Now I’m like, “I don’t know.” Can I go for a walk tomorrow? I don’t know, text me tomorrow and I’ll see.

Gaby: I will know an hour before!

Alyssa: Right!

Gaby: I think we’re maybe doing a month ahead of time. In my house with family events, I’m usually like let’s bring out the book of calendars. Everybody just dish out appointment cards. Like, “Here’s your Mother’s Day event, here’s this, and here’s that.” And now we’re just like, “We don’t know what we’re going to do.” Sometimes you’re just overwhelmed that you just don’t do anything.

Alyssa: Yeah, to have a weekend of nothing is totally fine.

Gaby: I don’t want to plan anything. You know what sounds good? Just being home, and cooking, and eating.

Alyssa: I think it’s the other side of owning a business that people don’t realize. You know, “Oh, you have so much free time.” Or, “Oh, you run your own schedule.” But there’s this opposite side of it where you do feel, like I said, isolated or that nobody quite understands. So I love these mom groups, like how I met you at the Mom Brain group. There’s always something to talk about because we’re always going through these same struggles. They might be a little bit different, but deep down we’re moms and we own our own businesses and we know what it’s like to be like, “Oh, yeah. I’m working until midnight tonight and I still have to get my kid up. I haven’t made lunch for school. Oh, yeah, and it’s library day and I don’t know where the library book is.” All these 20 little things, all these little details, but you still have a business to run.

Gaby: Right. There’s still something else that kind of, depending, is like two different … which, being a mom in itself has so many independent tasks that happen individually. Like these completely unrelated tasks that happen independently.

Alyssa: Mm-hmm, but we’re doing them simultaneously, often.

Gaby: Yes, yes! With two different children. One is your business and two is your actual kids that are kind of just, “I need all this stuff.” And then all of a sudden, business might have an emergency or your kid might have an emergency and if you don’t build those connections, you might be left struggling a little bit.

Alyssa: Well, it would be really easy to burn out. If you didn’t have, like you said, if you didn’t work with your family and it’s super close to home, you have that support network built in. If somebody owned a business, had children, didn’t have family, didn’t have friends, didn’t have a support network, and had no plan in place for these emergencies, whether it was family or business, you burn out.

Gaby: Yeah, I would imagine you’d just kind of be sitting there feeling lonely. It’s not even like, “Somebody come and help!” But it’s just the pure connection of like, “I just want to talk to somebody.” Or just a quick text to kind of get your mind out of maybe something serious that’s happening. Okay, then you can relax and go back and focus on your job, or your kids, or whatever it is. That’s so important to be able to have that extra support, in a multitude of forms, kind of sprinkled all over your life so that you can progress and move through the really hard, complicated times. In the end, you love your job. That’s why you’re doing it! That’s why we’re crazy still there. We’re still holding on because you love what you do.

Alyssa: Yeah, you work with brides who are in this specific zone and we’re working with new moms who are in this specific zone. Although many of our clients are probably, I’d say the majority of them are married, we do have some who are pregnant and then getting married or getting married while pregnant. So do you work with clients who are pregnant and need a dress? You say the minority, that would be the minority. How do you help?  How does that dress grow with the belly if they’re not getting married right away?

Gaby: It definitely depends. The first thing for us is to make that bride feel comfortable. Some brides are just chill, they’re just loving it, they’re embracing what is happening. Some brides are nervous in the way of like, “This is not how I envisioned it.” Or it was how they envisioned it and they were fine with it, but there’s an outside pressure. So we want to make sure that that is relieved. Because once you are in a good, happy, neutral position, you can really see yourself in a wedding dress, calmy. Not like, “I need to cover this or I need to cover that.” You just want something that fits and that’s comfortable and it depends. Some brides are going to grow, right? They’re still going to be pregnant when they get married, so we have to talk about that. Are you going to come in the week before for alterations? Are we going to hold out until the week before? Couple of days before? Alter it and then it will fit and then take it? So it might be a last minute alteration. Or sometimes they buy it when they’re pregnant and then they’ll have the baby … it’s a bit of a guessing game. Are you going to buy it smaller? Are we going to allow for alteration costs to make it smaller? Is it a shape of a dress that can fit both ways? Are you going to be comfortable? Is it too tight for baby? You need to think about can you sit down, can you stand? Because you’re not as agile, though I’m clumsy anyway, so that was not a good clumsy pregnant mom that is wobbling through a bridal store was a funny scene. We just sit and talk with them and say, “How are you feeling?” Some moms have had multiple kids, so they’re like, “I don’t grow” or, “Tomorrow I’m going to be double the size. I’m just telling you for now.” And that’ll be fine. I had one bride, she was so sweet. She was like, “I’m going to be this size by the time I get married.” And she was. She knew! She’d already had children, so she was like, “I’m pregnant, I’m going to give birth and my body’s going to go relatively back to normal by the time I’m there.” It really ends up being a matter of a last minute alteration and just understanding that we just need mom and baby to be comfortable. If you want a nice, snug dress, it might have to be a different fabric versus a more stretchier fabric. Not because we can’t make it fit, I mean you can cut anything to fit anything, but just because it’s a little bit more flexible and movable, and not so restricting. Just a little bit more of guiding and consulting and you’re going to look beautiful! Everything’s going to come out good. Don’t worry about it!

Alyssa: So if we have any moms who are thinking about getting married, where do they find you? Tell us website, phone number, address. What’s the best place for people to find you?

Gaby: Yeah, well we have multiple ways of contacting us. We are on 28th Street, pasT Burlingame. We are next to Marge’s Donuts, so if you’re pregnant it’s always good.

Alyssa: I was going to mention that. Like, “Oh!” When I came to visit you, I couldn’t leave without visiting Marge’s on the way out.

Gaby: Yes, stop by and have a yummy snack. We have brides that come in with a very like, “I’m going to plan [to lose weight]!” If that is your healthy goal, we’re going to support you and empower you for it. But we don’t want you to be like, you need to all of a sudden only eat lettuce for the next six months. We want to make sure that you are being healthy with your path and if this is how your fiance is seeing you right now. Like he proposed to you right now, he’s loving you, he’s going to care for you, he’s going to embrace you no matter what. We want to dress you how you are, not with the pressure that you have from somebody else. You can find us next to Marge’s Donuts. Go ahead, we support your purchase of donuts, cakes, custard-filled pastries, bring us one on the way back if you’re coming before! We are on Facebook, it’s Connie’s Bridal. You can find us on Instagram, you can give us a call at (616) 455-5233. Our website is the same, which I think nowadays is the easiest thing to do.

Alyssa: Cool. What about the LGBTQ community? Have you ever had two brides? Because we do get calls from-

Gaby: Yeah, of course. Like I said, that’s our main focus is to make you feel comfortable, and empowered in your decision. If you’re wanting a suit, if you’re wanting two dresses, if you want a mini dress, if you want to alter something, we can do that. What I mainly see is the hesitation. Come on in, if you need extra time. That’s for any brides if you feel like you’re going to need extra time, if you’re going to need extra space, if you’re going to need extra quiet, or you’re going to need extra quiet because your support group is extra loud! We like to accommodate for that. Two bridess, we just want to support and celebrate alongside of you.

Alyssa: I love it. Thank you for sharing.

Gaby: Yeah, you’re welcome.

Alyssa: So yeah, check her out if you’re in the market for a wedding dress. As always, you can find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Instagram, Facebook, and you can listen to our podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes.

 

The Minority Bride: Podcast Episode #78 Read More »

Birth Stories

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77

Gaby is a local business owner in Grand Rapids and talks to Alyssa about the birth stories of both of her children. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa: Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast. I am Alyssa and I’m excited to be here with Gaby today. How are you?

Gaby: Hi, I’m great, Alyssa.

Alyssa: So we met a couple of months ago?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Was it the Mom Brain meet up?

Gaby: We did, yeah.

Alyssa: Yeah, and we got to talking about your lovely little bridal shop. I shouldn’t call it little, we’ll talk about that in another episode. But you have three children?

Gaby: I have two.

Alyssa: Two children.

Gaby: And a fur baby!

Alyssa: But you didn’t birth that one!

Gaby: Yeah, no.

Alyssa: I just wanted to talk about your stories. So our moms who are pregnant love hearing positive birth stories and it’s not to say that even though your birth story – the outcome may be positive, but there weren’t crazy things that happened along the way.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: I think there are so many people telling you, oh, just wait until… You know? And they tell you negative things about pregnancy, about labor and delivery, about postpartum, and then every year as your kid grows, oh, you just wait until… So I like to give our listeners some positive stories. So tell me about your kids. How old are they now?

Gaby: I have two kids. My oldest, Aurora. She’s going to be six this year. And my youngest, Andreas, he’s going to be three this year. They’re a good amount apart, but still kind of fighting the ages right there.

Alyssa: Yeah. What was it like having a three-year-old and a newborn?

Gaby: She had just surpassed the age of needing me 100% of the time. She was starting to be independent and she was very involved and loving, but there was still that balance of like, she’s still not 100% independent. But I like that space. I wouldn’t personally go any closer. I know I have friends and moms that are like, I just like to have my babies super close so that I’m having babies all at the same time. And I’m like, that sounds very overwhelming!

Alyssa: I think it’s very overwhelming in that stage. I was actually just talking to a girlfriend today who did that and she was like, It was so overwhelming! I don’t even know how I made it through. She goes, “But now, it’s so easy. They’re all within the same age range and they’re all independent. And they all just go play outside for two hours together.” So I can see the beauty of both ends, I guess.

Gaby: Yeah and now since she’s a little bit different, she’s still kind of interested in what he’s interested in, and can also watch him a relative amount of – you know, she’s kind of on the lookout a little bit. So she’s enjoying that responsibility of like, I’m in charge and don’t do that.

Alyssa: Oh yeah, my daughter’s six and she would love to be a big sister.

Gaby: Yeah. She’s like, don’t do that. Or she’ll run inside like, “Mom!” Okay, let’s go through the emergency levels here. Not everything is 100% red flag, our house is on fire, emergency.

Alyssa: So how were your deliveries with both of them? Were they pretty similar or completely different?

Gaby: They were relatively similar. I like to talk a look at all the possibilities and when I originally was planning to get pregnant and got pregnant, I was like, gve me all the drugs. Let’s set a date for the delivery, just give me all the drugs, and it’ll be quick and simple, and I’ll be in and out, and I’ll look great. You know, in a week I’ll be fabulous.

Alyssa: Instagram perfect, right?

Gaby: Yes! It’ll be fabulous! And that’s when I started reading up more on it and because of my tendencies already – so for example, my back has always kind of been sore, in pain, or more on the delicate side, and I started seeing the complications with medications and where they go and how they go and how they affect you. I started to explore a more natural way, more hands-off, with still keeping in mind, If I need it, that’s open. So not ever being like, I don’t want it no matter what. But just being like, I want to go in with the mindset of as much hands-off as possible. And then with the nurses and the doctors, because I trusted them if it really needed to be done, or if I needed medication or an intervention, then I was okay with doing that. And it was relatively – the pregnancy itself, I was sick! Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick! I think I lost weight until the last couple of months. And she was right on time and it was a relatively – I don’t know if it’s long, but it was almost like 12-20 hour from start to finish. But I think the active labor was maybe 6 hours? I was in a lot of pain. It seemed like, I can’t even tell you how long it was, but the active labor wasn’t that long.

Alyssa: Did you end up begging for an epidural?

Gaby: No, I didn’t. What ended up happening is they gave me Stadol at the last stages because I was refusing to sit down, to lay down, because it just hurt so much more. So when the contractions started they put me in a little tub, but as it started to get more intense I just couldn’t be sitting down. So most of the labor my partner and I were just on our feet. So I would be on my feet and then the contraction would come and I would obviously just collapse and he would just kind of hold me. Like underarms hold me through the contraction. Then the doctor’s like, you need to rest! You’ve been on your feet most of the labor. And I was like, I can’t, it hurts! They’d try to lay me down and I’d be like, “No!” It was just not good. It definitely helped me rest once I took the medicine and I don’t want to say it took the pain away, but it definitely helped ease the transition from standing up and the anxiety of like, If I lay down, it’s going to hurt more. She came and it was everybody focus! Don’t talk to me, focus! And she was delivered. There weren’t any complications. She came out great and everybody in my family waited until we were in the other room to come in.

Alyssa: Yeah, I was going to say, who was in the room with you?

Gaby: Just my partner at the time. Yes, I was very adamant about that. In fact, my grandmother tried to come in a couple of times and she was like, do you need anything? And I’m like, There’s nothing you can do! Please, I need some space. And I think it really helped me focus in the moment and just continuously tell myself, your body is meant to do this, to go through it, don’t panic. I just had to be like, don’t panic, just breathe in. You’re supposed to do this. If something were to go wrong, someone’s going to tell you if something’s wrong, they’re going to intervene. But as long as they’re just like, hey, everything’s okay! I’m trusting my environment and my body that this is what it’s supposed to do.

Alyssa: So was that intentional decision to only have you in your partner in the room for your first baby?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Because you wanted to focus.

Gaby: Yes and I feel like I would get distracted. And my mom, I love her to death, she’s great. She actually works in the emergency room. She’s an interpreter. But when it comes to family emergencies, she gets really panicky. And at that time with my daughter, she was actually in Florida, so it wasn’t too bad. It was just my grandma kind of coming in. And I think after the second time, I was like, I will see you when it’s done. Please, I’m fine. There’s nothing really. I guess in my head it’s kind of like, what can you really do? And I have friends that have everybody in there. Like a photographer and the neighbor. They’re great, they love it. They just want all the hugs and kisses and I just want everyone like, we’re here to work. We’re here to get from A to B, but we’re going to do it. So I told everybody, you cannot be out until I’m in the next room. And for the most part, they listened.

Alyssa: Minus grandma, twice.

Gaby: Minus grandma! I think she was just – you know, I think it’s definitely shocking. Your loved ones want to like, how can I make it better?

Alyssa: Well how did your partner react? Because often times they’re the ones who, you know, I want to fix this. I want to help and there’s nothing I can do.

Gaby: We had been together for a while and I definitely have a – in my life in general, when I’m sick I have the same kind of reaction. So he kind of knew that I was going to need specific help and we kind of were like – he knew. And he knew that if I needed something I would ask or that for example, really he was just there literally as a support because I was on my feet. And then the next time he was just there to make sure – I was like, I just need you to make sure that if I cannot vocalize what I want, this is what I want. That we have decided together. And he was just kind of there, vigilant, just checking, which kind of also brought me a little bit of peace of mind. Like, I have someone that isn’t trying to deliver a baby. I think they were 7.8 and then my other one was like 8.7.

Alyssa: But in your head, you were probably like, this must be a 12-pound baby.

Gaby: Whatever is coming out, I’m doing it and he’s not and he can say, go through the checklist.

Alyssa: Right!

Gaby: I’m very – I like to take charge and so at that point, there was only one thing that I was going to be able to focus. We had talked about it and I think he definitely – I have a very like, don’t get close to me unless I need it kind of vibe when I’m in pain. But again, I just kept thinking, this is something that happens. That’s supposed to happen, that you’re meant to happen. Like, you’re body’s prepared for even though you’ve never personally gone through it before, but it’s supposed to kind of go this route.

Alyssa: So how did that affect baby number two knowing you’ve been through this before, you knew your pain thrthreshold did that help?

Gaby: I actually thought I was not as far along than I actually was. With both of them! So don’t time your contractions in your head. Make sure you’re using an actual timer. With my son, when I got in they were like, do you want medication? Do you want some Stadol right now? I was like, Oh, no! I still have time. I’ve only been here a couple ho ofurs. With my daughter, I was here, it wasn’t until like midnight or you know, until I got Stadol, so I still have a couple hours of labor.

They didn’t say anything, they were like, okay, fine. You don’t want medicine right now, we understand. And then when it started getting worse and I was like, okay, I’m ready!

Alyssa: Give me some!

Gaby: And they were like, you’re too far along. And I’m like, wait, what do you mean? It hasn’t been that long. I had already labored outside of the hopsital longer and I must have been dilated much faster, obviously, because it was my second.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: So it was kind of a shock to me like, wait, I’m not – this is going to happen without anything. So with my son, I didn’t have any medication. And he just kind of – I don’t think the doctor was a little – she didn’t even have time to put gloves on. ‘Cause when they were like, you don’t need medication, you’re far along. I’m like, oh. And then a little bit after that, like less than 30 minutes, I was like, it’s time! You have to wait until you feel pressure. I’m like, yes! I’m checking it off, yes. And they’re like, no, it’s going to be a little bit. And then the doctors come in so relaxed. They’re so relaxed. And I’m like, ma’am. You should probably move along. And she sits on her little stool and I’m just kind of watching her like, she shouldn’t be this calm because I’m feeling it. It’s coming. She’s coming. And she literally turns around and she’s like, let me put my gloves on. And I’m like, nope! And she’s like, what do you mean? And she’s like, oh my God. And she just – she’s like, okay. And she catches him – he comes out.

Alyssa: No gloves? No time.

Gaby: She didn’t have time for gloves.

Alyssa: Oh my gosh.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: So I mean it kind of was a totally different experience. I mean, very quick.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: You probably wouldn’t call it painless, but it was a lot less drawn out.

Gaby: No. It was a lot less drawn out pain and I don’t know if I was – I don’t want to say I was used to the pain. I was in pain – like the muscles on the inside of my legs had decided they were too sore the whole pregnancy, so I was in a lot of pain consistantly. Kind of like jolts of pain. I don’t know if I was used to pain and then it was a faster delivery and he was just kind of like, I’m ready. And he just slid right out.

Alyssa: Do you think that as first time moms, since we don’t know what to expect, our brains kind of tell us that it’s going to be worse than it is?

Gaby: I think it definitely contributes to that and sitting down and talking to friends – the stories are not there for us. Like my friends and I are not like, I wish somebody would have sat down and talked about the actual labor. Honestly, not in a, I’m going to scare you. Not in a warning, not in a, don’t get pregnant because then labor’s painful. But in a, let’s go through everything, compare notes. So that you can be at least aware of what actually happens. Be prepared for the pain. As women, we have pain every month. Some of us more than every month. I think we’re much more capable, but we have this background fear of labor and delivery.

Alyssa: What are a few of those things that you would say to a new mom who has no idea?

Gaby: I think that mostly would be educate yourself with actually facts. Educate yourself in how you yourself react to pain in just your everyday life. Are you squimish? Are you not squimish? How your partner does that? How are you going to communicate? Some people can’t communicate when they’re in pain. Does that need to be talked about beforehand? You can bring your $200 ball to sit on, but I could not sit on the ball. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t pay for it, so I was grateful that I didn’t invest in a birthing ball that I didn’t need. So there’s going to be so many switches. Just kind of learn to be a little bit more go with the flow, ‘cause in the end – I want to say it’s like the baby in your body that’s going to be in charge of what happens. I just kept telling myself like, just breathe. Breathe through it, not because it’s going to minimize the pain, but because it’s going to help focus where I’m going out of the pain.

Alyssa: Sounds like you could have benefited from our hypnobirthing class. It’s like learning physiologically what’s going to happen. You know, what’s going on in your body, what’s happening during a contraction, what’s happening during active labor, but then like you said – so you’re ahead of most knowing that, let’s talk about how I deal with pain and how I process things. Do I like to be touched? Do I not like to be touched? Do I hold all my tension here? So knowing that and talking to your partner about that ahead of time is a big part of what the hypnobirthing class is about. Let’s focus on these things and practice how are we going to deal with that when we’re in this situation.

Gaby: Yeah and you definitely have to – we work so hard in preparing the room, and the baby, and all the stuff, but that moment is so small comparatively speaking, but it’s so intense. And it can leave such a big mark if it gets too complicated. So I feel like being prepared for a lot of stuff makes the load a little bit lighter. ‘Cause you already have the answers and you know what to expect. I didn’t realize that my doctor wasn’t going to be there until the very end. This whole time I’m like, I want my doctor. I’ve known her for a million years and we’re best friends. They didn’t call her until the end. Then when I realized, the nurses were just fabulous. They’re the ones that are going to take care of you. So it’s great to have a great relationship with your doctor, but going into where you’re going to give birth and seeing the support and the nurses – the support staff, I guess depending on where we give birth, they’re going to be there for the long run. They’re really invested in you because they’re there with you the whole time.

Alyssa: Yeah. Labor and delivery nurses are amazing.

Gaby: Yeah, yeah. I was kind of worried that – because I wasn’t going to be in a hospital, they were going to be like, we’re going to wire you up and we’re going to put all the juices in you. And I was like, I don’t want -. But it wasn’t like that at all. I didn’t feel forced into a certain way that they were doing things.

Alyssa: Well, is there anything else that you would love to share?

Gaby: I just wish we would trust our decisions more and be more confident in what we can handle, as far as labor and delivery. Again, if you want that support group there around you, and you know you need it, and that’s how you’ve been your whole entire life like you want mom, and aunt, and everybody, and the dog, that’s great. But if all of a sudden because you’re giving birth everybody wants to sign up and come and take pictures, don’t do it. It’ll be a good first start to parenting and being with family. It’s not about you not loving or caring, or that you don’t want them involved ever in the life of the baby, but that is such a critical moment that you can’t have extra people that you’re really not going to ulitize or that you’re going to feel like you’re trapped in that room for a long time.

Alyssa: Yeah, so often family members can make us feel – like guilt us into doing things that we don’t feel are right. And this is, like you said, the first step in a very long journey of parenting where you have to do what’s best for you and your family and not everybody else.

Gaby: Right. I probably would have been mad to see my sister on her phone while I’m mid contraction.

Alyssa: Right! You better not be posting anything to Facebook.

Gaby: Yeah. Like, how can you be relaxing? I’m mid contraction! You know, let’s not get angry. Let’s just focus on that.

Alyssa: I did the same thing, so I totally understand.

Gaby: People are so hesitant to say – They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and I think it’s – now that we’re learning a little more emotional tintelligence, think we can put responsibility on both parts. One to say no and the other part to understand. Hopefully everybody understands if you want to draw that line.

Alyssa: Well, thank you so much for sharing.

Gaby: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Alyssa: We will have you on again. I want to learn a little bit more about your business and what it’s like. I love talking to moms who are business women as well.

Gaby: Yeah, I can’t wait.

Alyssa: Thanks, everyone for listening. You can find us on iTunes and Sound Cloud. Again ,this is Ask the Doulas. You can find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Instagram, and Facebook. Thanks for listening.

 

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77 Read More »

Jamie Platt

Jamie’s Breastfeeding Experience: Podcast Episode #76

Jamie Platt, Birth and Postpartum Doula with Gold Coast Doulas, tells us about three completely different breastfeeding experiences with her three children.  This podcast was recorded over a year ago, and Jamie is now a certified lactation counselor.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, your host for today, and today we have a special guest, Jamie.  Hello!

Jamie:  Hi!

Alyssa:  Thanks for coming!  So we were talking the other day, and you’ve had three really, really different experiences with breastfeeding with your three children.  Tell us a little bit about your three kids and how breastfeeding went differently for each of them.

Jamie:  Sure!  So I have three children.  My oldest son, Noah, is 14.  And then my two younger children are five and three.  So I was a young parent and gave birth to my oldest, Noah, when I was 21.  My breastfeeding journey with him was very short and limited.  I knew I wanted to breastfeed, and I received a manual pump, I remember, at my baby shower.

Alyssa:  Did you even know what it was?

Jamie:  No!  No one ever showed me how to use it.  I knew what it was for, and that’s it.  And I remember in the hospital, no one ever gave me any tips about breastfeeding.  It was expected that I was going to breastfeed.  My mom breastfed all three of us for over a year.  It was challening not knowing what to do with breastfeeding.  The funniest story I remember from that journey was, since I was young, I went back to work right away.  I was coaching volleyball at the time, and I went to a tournament and coached all day.  I didn’t bring a pump; I didn’t know that I was supposed to be pumping this whole time.

Alyssa:  That’s what this whole manual pump was for!

Jamie!  Yes!  And I looked down during a break at a game, and my shirt was all wet!  I had leaked through my shirt, so I had to put a sweatshirt over me, and of course, it was so hot in the gym all day.  And shortly after that, I stopped nursing.  I don’t recall how old my son was, but it had to be within a month or two.  And so I wish, looking back, that someone had sat down with me, shown me what I needed to do to nurse and to pump, but that didn’t happen.

Alyssa:  Do you think that it lasted such a short period of time because — I mean, did your milk supply just dry up because you were back at work and not pumping?  Or did you just say, I’m so over this; I’m just going to stop?

Jamie:  It’s hard to remember the details.  I just remember stopping.  I was in school at the time and working, and just one day, I stopped.

Alyssa:  So a lot of things all mixed together, I’m sure.

Jamie:  Yeah.  So when my second child was born — he’s five now — I knew I wanted to do things differently.  I was older and wiser; knew a little bit more about breastfeeding, but still not enough to know what to do in certain situations.  I nursed him until he was about 18 or 19 months old.

Alyssa:  Wow!  So you learned a lot more, then.  I mean, in nine years time, to go from one month to 19 months.

Jamie:  True.  There were just a few different barriers along the way.  I was a single parent, so I went back to work when he was around three months old.  However, he wouldn’t take a bottle at the time, so with that situation, my sister came to my home and was watching him for me, but she would bring him to my work, or I would quick drive home on my break just to feed him, and that lasted a good one or two months.  And I knew what to do at the time, as far as I was trying different bottles, but I did feel quite alone trying to figure this out.  And then while working, I pumped for over a year.  Another obstacle I had to overcome was with coworkers.  A friend of mine told me that a coworker complained to my manager that I was still pumping, and my child had reached a year old, so I shouldn’t have these pumping breaks anymore.  And the manager never said anything to me, but I had heard this through the work grapevine.  I also had an experience around the time he was a year old with his pediatrician at the time.  We went in for his one year well child check, and they ask you if you have any questions.  And I asked about nighttime feedings.  I think that’s a popular topic.  He was still feeding through the night, and it didn’t bother me, but at the time, I thought it was something to bring up.  The pediatrician told me that I had to stop nighttime nursing immediately, that she had done it with her kids; he’ll be fine, that he was going to get cavities — which we know from research that that is not true.

Alyssa:  Cavities from breastmilk?

Jamie:  Yes, during the night.  That’s still kind of a popular myth that’s out there.  And the big thing she told me was that he wouldn’t be potty trained by the time he was eight, and that sticks into my mind because she chose the year eight.

Alyssa:  Okay, that’s really confusing.  If you breastfeed your one-year-old at night, they won’t be potty trained when they’re eight?

Jamie:  Yes.  So this wasn’t our usual pediatrician; she had stepped in.  And immediately after she told me these things, I wanted to leave.  I stayed, but she could tell that there was a problem because I was silent.  She asked me if there was anything wrong, and I said yes, I don’t agree with anything that you’re saying!  The visit ended shortly after that.  I was kind of angry that she was telling me these things because I knew better.  So I called my dentist’s office, and I asked them about the cavities with breastfeeding.  I reached out to other individuals that I knew were very knowledgeable about breastfeeding and asked them different questions, and I ended up looking up scholarly articles, anything that had to do with research, that I could bring back to her and tell her that she was wrong.  I ended up calling the office a few days later.  I had all my stuff in front of me when I called.  I spoke to the manager, and I ended up speaking to the pediatrician.  I remember telling her that I felt sorry for her patients that believed everything she told them.  I said, “I am an educated person, but some people might not know as much about breastfeeding or they don’t know to do the research about it before making a decision, and they would go along with what you said.”  And she apologized.  She said she had no research to back up the potty training claim.

Alyssa:  Oh, wow.

Jamie: And she did end up sending me something in the mail, as well.  Ever since that encounter is when I became passionate about breastfeeding and being up to date on the research about it, sharing with others about it.

Alyssa:  And you joined several lactation support groups, correct?  You belong to a couple now?

Jamie:  I am on a couple of local Facebook groups about breastfeeding, and I talk to a lot of my friends about breastfeeding.  I just really want to educate people more about it, after that encounter.  So that’s just when I really started to delve into researching more about breastfeeding and the benefits that it has for both mother and baby.

Alyssa:  So what happened after the pediatrician visit and you realized that information was wrong?  Did you continue nighttime feeds?

Jamie:  I continued nighttime feeds.

Alyssa:  No cavities, and he potty trained?

Jamie:  No cavities, and I left that office and found a new pediatrician.  He’s a healthy, happy little boy.  He did end up weaning on his own because I was pregnant with my youngest at the time, and I could tell that had something to do with that.  But I was the working, pumping mom.  I brought my pump to work every day.  And it is a lot of work to pump at work, making the time to take those breaks.  I worked in a busy medical office, and it is hard to say, “I need to do this for my child,” when you know that other people are picking up your slack for a little bit.  But I think if, as a culture, we all realize that breastfeeding is good for mom; it’s good for babies; it’s good for our society.

Alyssa:  And aren’t there studies that say that women who breastfeed actually overall have a better sense of self-esteem, better sense of self, almost?  Like, they are actually more productive, even though we like to look at them and say, oh, well, I have to pick up your slack while you’re pumping?  Well, you know what, because you’re pumping, you actually are more productive when you are working.  Does that make sense?  I swear I’ve read things about that.

Jamie:  I’m not sure about that, but I do know that research shows that mothers miss less work because their babies are sick less and they’re not taking their kids to the doctor.  So it’s better for the economy overall.  We actually save millions of dollars; the United States saves millions of dollars every year through moms breastfeeding, so it’s important that you support your coworkers if they’re nursing.  It’s for a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things, and it’s great to also find those breastfeeding buddies at work.  I had other moms that nursed.  I had my nice, double electric pump, and it hurt when I pumped, but I never could figure out why, and finally I complained about it to a coworker who was also pumping.  She was a little more experienced mother, and she helped me realize that part of my pump was too small.

Alyssa:  Were the nipple shields too small?

Jamie: The flanges were too small, yeah, so I had to buy new ones, and that made a world of difference.  So it’s really helpful to find a more seasoned breastfeeding friend who can help you along your journey, because there’s lots of little things that you may not know about.

Alyssa:  Or a lactation consultant, right, if you get into those serious binds?

Jamie:  Yes.  Thankfully, I’ve never had mastitis or a clogged duct, but if I did, I definitely would have called a lactation consultant for help.

Alyssa:  So tell us about your third child.  I think your youngest has been a little bit longer, so tell us how that journey went.

Jamie:  Yeah, so my daughter turned three on Halloween, and I am still nursing her.  So this is definitely another new experience for me.  I would never have imagined I would be nursing a child for this long.  I have realized that I did have some preconceived notions about extended nursing; maybe some judgmental thoughts about it, as well.  And I honestly still struggle a little bit with those internally myself as I’m still nursing, thinking, man, you know, you should really stop; you should be done.  And while I would love to be done, I do want my daughter to wean on her own.  I tell myself I am decreasing my risk of ovarian cancer every time I nurse!  Even when you nurse your baby longer than the one or two years, it’s still healthy for Mom and it’s still healthy for Baby, and it’s been a very different experience doing this.

Alyssa:  So tell people what it looks like.  Having a three year old; it’s not going to be nursing every three hours.  Is it a nighttime feed kind of thing, or when she’s sick or tired?  Is it more like a comfort thing almost at this point?

Jamie:  It is more of a comfort thing.  She nurses at night.  However, I’ve been on three or four extended trips, and by extended, I mean I’ve been gone for four to six days at a time at conferences, and thinking every time I leave, this will be our last nursing session, and I come back and I don’t bring it up, but she still wants to nurse.  So it is usually just at night; if she’s feeling sick, then she’ll nurse a little bit more.

Alyssa:  And you don’t lose your milk supply after six days of being gone with no nursing?

Jamie:  I did not.  The first time I went away, she had just turned two, and it was the first time I had ever been away overnight from her, actually, when she was two.  So I did bring a pump with me, but I didn’t produce a lot when I pumped, so I knew that for my next trip, I wasn’t going to bring a pump with me.  But I still have a supply, and I was lucky enough with her, as well, to stay home with her for almost the first full year and nurse, and that was just a blessing.  I hadn’t been able to do that before with a child, and it was so nice not to have to pump for that time!  And then right around a year is when I started nursing school, and so I would pump when I was away from her.  And I finally decided to stop pumping.  Pumping is so hard!  If you’ve done it, you know!  And we’ve just been nursing ever since.

Alyssa:  Well, it sounds like a lovely plan.  You know, you say you had maybe judgments about nursing for that long.  What still bothers you that you think shouldn’t, or what have you had to tell yourself to get those thoughts out of your mind?

Jamie:  It’s still hard to get over the way our culture thinks about breastfeeding.  That you shouldn’t breastfeed in public; Mom should cover up; anything over a certain age is gross or weird, or why are you doing that?  Once they have teeth you should stop; once they start talking and can ask for it, you should stop.  All these different things our culture tells us about breastfeeding is a little backwards.  We know, if we went to a different country or a different culture, that things are definitely different than they are in the United States, but it’s just the media that always sexualizes breastfeeding as well, and you grow up with that.  So you’re growing up in this culture that sexualizes breasts, when we know that you use them also to breastfeed your child!  And so for me, it’s just getting past those thoughts that I’ve had growing up about breastfeeding and just telling myself this is normal and it’s okay to do.  It’s not hurting anyone.  It’s my decision as a mother.  It’s been a really neat and wonderful journey that I never though I’d be on.

Alyssa:  Well, and I imagine nursing a three-month-old and a three-year-old, you’re probably not going to attempt to breastfeed your three-year-old in public.  Or have you?

Jamie:  I don’t, but she doesn’t ask to, either.

Alyssa:  So it’s almost like you guys have this unspoken thing; that it’s something in private that you two do together, and I’m sure it’s still this amazing, beautiful bonding experience, just like it is with a newborn.

Jamie:  Definitely a strong bond, and again, I as a mother and a parent and working, I did reach a time where I wanted to be done.  I’m like, okay, we can be done with this now!  But I’m just letting her take the lead with it, and I can tell you that I do hope she’s done relatively soon!  I have another week-long trip coming up in three weeks.

Alyssa:  Maybe that will be it?

Jamie:  Yeah, we’ll see if that’s the end of our journey.

Alyssa:  You know, I wonder culturally, too, if it was a son who was three, would it be different, because of the sexualization of breasts?  Would it be different if it were a boy?  I don’t know; can they remember that at three when they get older?  I don’t know.  Just a thought that I wonder if that would make a difference.

Jamie:  I’m not sure.  I’m sure that for some people, a boy versus a girl breastfeeding is different.  I’ve had people very close to me tell me I should stop breastfeeding.  This was with my middle son when he was around six months.  I was still nursing, and I got asked, when are you going to stop?  He’s six months old!  And I tried to throw all the evidence-based research at them to show them that this was still okay; the AAP and WHO, all these big organizations say you should breastfeed until one.  And so then I got to one, despite people telling me to stop.  I just pretty much ignored them because I can be stubborn like that, and when he turned one, I got the same comments again.  When are you going to stop?  And it’s funny that once I just plowed through all the negativity and judgmental comments, I haven’t had those same comments with my last child, because I think those people know — well, obviously, she’s three now, but when she was younger, they knew I was going to continue breastfeeding her for as long as I wanted to.  So people may not talk about it a lot, but I have had the challenges at work with comments from people; I’ve had people very close to me have very negative comments about breastfeeding, and you see all the big media stories that just happen to pop up because social media is so prevalent now.  It is everywhere, but there’s all those things that women that you know may be experiencing but they don’t talk about it.  It doesn’t reach the news.  And so we really need to support everyone in their own breastfeeding journey because you don’t know what someone may be going through.

Alyssa:  Right, and I think as postpartum doulas, we have a unique experience and a unique opportunity to deal with this with new moms right when they come home with their babies, to really help support them.  Maybe we are that one person who’s cheering them on, in the face of everyone else who’s saying, why in the world would you do that?  Or isn’t that weird?  I remember having friends saying things that were trying to make it sexual when it’s not at all!  It’s something you can’t even describe to someone who doesn’t understand, this crazy bond.  And I get that.  Like, you so want to quit; some days, you’re just like, God, when is this going to be done?  But then when it finally is, you don’t get that back!  And then you actually kind of miss it.  It’s like you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  And I do; I think back on it.  My daughter just turned five, so it’s been a long time since she breastfed, but I think back to those days, and there’s nothing like it.

Jamie:  One of the things that I really love about being a postpartum doula is the fact that I get to help mothers with breastfeeding.  That’s something I really enjoy, especially — they may have gotten some help from the lactation consultant at the hospital, but when they get home, that’s another ballgame.  Problems can start to arise.  They don’t feel confident anymore.  They think their milk’s not coming in.  So it’s really a blessing to support them.

Alyssa:  That’s one of the biggest fears for moms, I feel like, who are breastfeeding, is how do I know that the baby’s getting enough milk?  How do I know that the latch is right?  How is this supposed to feel?  There’s just so many questions about this thing that’s supposed to be so natural.  Like, we have boobs to breastfeed and it should be so natural, but it’s sometimes one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of having a baby, I feel like.

Jamie:  Definitely.  I would strongly recommend, if you are having problems with breastfeeding, there’s a lot of community support right in our own area.  There’s breastfeeding support groups from the hospitals; Le Leche League; we have wonderful lactation consultants in our area that will go to your home.  So it’s really important to utilize the resources that you have and reach out for help.

Alyssa:  Shira is our in-house lactation consultant, and having that consult in your home: it’s quiet; it’s one-on-one.  There’s nobody in the hospital coming to check your blood pressure and poke and prod you.  She spends two hours with them at that first visit, and she really gets to know you and what’s going on and figure out a solution.  So I feel like, yeah, that’s — I wish; if only I had known Shira four and a half years ago!

Jamie:  She’s very knowledgeable!  I do have lots of friends who ask me questions about breastfeeding, but I have sent her a quick text to say, hey, this is out of my scope of knowledge; can you help me with this problem?  And she helps me out.

Alyssa:  I think it’s great to have the support of postpartum doulas, and you have even more extensive knowledge than I do because of all the groups you’ve been in and the research you’ve done.  I’ve breastfed one child; you’ve done three.  I feel like we can do only so much for clients, though.  It’s good to know that they have a resource beyond our scope, to really help with the hard things.

Jamie:  Definitely!

Alyssa:  Well, thanks for sharing your stories!  If anyone has questions about breastfeeding or more questions for Jamie, in particular, you can always reach us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  Remember, these moments are golden!

 

Jamie’s Breastfeeding Experience: Podcast Episode #76 Read More »

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.”

 

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

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!

 

Postpartum Support for Business Owners: Podcast Episode #74 Read More »

Sleep Consultant

Chris’ Personal Sleep Story: Podcast Episode #73

Chris Emmer, a former client, talks about her sleep journey with daughter, Sam, and working with Alyssa.  She started when Sam was six months old and cannot believe she waited so long to seek help.  In a sleep-deprived fog, she finally called in “the big guns” for help!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas Podcast.  I am Alyssa, and I am so excited to be talking with Chris Emmer today.  Hello, Chris!

Chris:  Hi!

Alyssa:  You were a client of ours.  You did birth, postpartum, and then sleep with me.  So we’re going to focus in on sleep today.

Chris:  Let’s talk about sleep, the most important thing!

Alyssa:  So when did you realize that you needed help with sleep?  How old was Sam, and how did the beginning weeks or months go with sleep?  Were you like, “Oh, yeah, this is great, no problem”?

Chris:  Okay, definitely wasn’t, “Oh, yeah, this is great.”  It’s hard to say because honestly, those first couple of months – I call them the blackout period.  I kind of don’t remember what happened.  I know I wasn’t sleeping.  I know I cried a bunch, and I was breastfeeding, like, 24/7.  But I don’t know; it’s all such a blur in those first couple months, and I remember doing a lot of research on everything.  So before I had her, I did a lot of research on car seats and cribs and diapers and all the things you buy, but I did zero research on sleep and breastfeeding – the two most important things!  So after she was born, I felt like I was doing a crash course in how to have a kid.  And after doing a lot of internet searches and downloading ebooks and taking webinars, all these things, I was feeling so overwhelmed with information.  My baby’s not sleeping.  I feel like I’m going to lose my mind.  Like, I just need to talk to a person!  And that was when I reached out to you.

Alyssa:  And how old was she?  Six months?

Chris:  I think she might have been six months, yeah.

Alyssa:  That’s what comes to my mind.

Chris:  I think so.

Alyssa:  So do you feel like you had six months of just pure sleep deprivation?  You were just gone?

Chris:  Absolutely.  Yeah.  There was no day and no night.  And I remember very vividly sitting in my chair in the corner of the nursery breastfeeding, and when I got out of the bed and went to the chair, watching my husband just sprawl out and take up the entire bed, and just shooting daggers out of my eyes at him.  And sometimes coughing loudly.  “How was your night?” I would say to him in the morning.  But yeah, we just had no strategy was the thing, and there was a ton of crying on her part, as well.  She wasn’t just having a fly by the seat of her pants good time.  She was not a happy camper, either, so we were like, okay, let’s step this up a level.  We’ve got to do something here.

Alyssa:  Right.  I think the crying part is a big part of sleep deprivation for the child that the parents don’t think about, because they’ll call me and say, “I don’t want to do cry it out.”  I’m like, “Good, I don’t do cry it out.  But you have to understand that crying is just a healthy part of how a baby communicates, and in these sleep-deprived kids, your baby has done a heck of a lot more crying than they’re going to do while we get them on a schedule, and then there will be no crying.”  So if you think about, cumulatively, how many hours of crying she did over those past six months because she was sleep deprived, and maybe you have to deal with a little bit of it during sleep training.  I want to kind of hear about the journey from six months until now because we had some ups and downs with sleep.  We’d get her on track, and then a new developmental milestone would happen and you would be like, “Help!  What’s going on?”

Chris: That’s me, frantically texting Alyssa!  So around six months – I honestly think before that, she wasn’t taking a single nap during the day, and when I talked to you, you were like, okay, psycho, you should be doing actually three naps a day.  Here’s what time they are; here’s how they go.  And then in the beginning, you gave us the shush-pat technique, which was what we did for a while there.  And it ended up working super well.  I think before we decided to call in the big shots, which is you, we were like, oh, sleep training; what a scary word.  We better stock up on wine for the weekend we do that!  You know, we thought it was going to be this traumatic thing, and we would both be scarred, and our child would be emotionally scarred.  But she cried less the first weekend we did sleep training than she did any normal weekend when we weren’t doing it.  Like, significantly less.  I think she only cried for 15 minutes the first time, and then she fell asleep.  Like, what??

Alyssa:  I remember you saying, “How is this possible?  What did you do to my child?  Whose baby is this?”

Chris:  Yeah, what’s happening?  Did you possess my child?  So yeah, we were just shocked that it worked almost right away, and it was not traumatizing whatsoever.  What we were doing before was much more traumatizing, and we were doing that every single day!  So once we had a few successes, it became much easier to stick to a more planned-out schedule, so that was around six months.

Alyssa:  I remember the best was the photo you sent of me – I think she was now taking regular naps.  It was the third or fourth day in a row, and you were like, oh, my God, she’s an hour through this two-hour nap.  We’re going to hit the hot tub.  And you sent me a picture of two champagne glasses on the edge of the hot tub, and you were like, yes!  We did it!

Chris:  That’s one of my favorite parenting memories!  It was the greatest success because really, I feel like sleep is probably the most important thing.

Alyssa:  I think it is!

Chris:  Yeah, especially in terms of sanity for mom and dad.  My emotional state was not stable when I was super sleep deprived.  I was just forgetting everything, crying at the drop of a hat.  It really affects you.

Alyssa:  On so many levels.   Your relationship; your child’s not happy, so you can’t even bond with your child effectively because you’re both sleep deprived and unhappy, and then you’re like, why are you crying?  I don’t know what to do, and you just want to sleep, and we end up getting in these really bad cycles of, well, I just want to sleep, so let’s just do this, whatever “this” ends up being, whether it’s cosleeping or breastfeeding or holding or rocking or driving in the car.  You just kind of get into survival mode.

Chris:  Yeah.  And I would just nurse her to sleep.  I think I spent – oh, my God.  I feel like I spent the entire summer sitting in my nursing chair trying to breastfeed her to sleep and then slow motion trying to drop her into the crib, and then she would just wake up one second later, and I’d be like, ugh, that was an hour and a half of work, and now she’s wide awake!  So yeah, that was the beginning.

Alyssa:  And then I didn’t hear from you for a little while, and then probably maybe eight or nine months, you think, she had another development milestone where she was sitting up or something?

Chris:  Yeah, she started sitting up and then she started crawling.  I remember when she first started crawling, that was a huge change because she would just do laps around her crib.  She was running a marathon in there, and I would just watch her on the monitor and be like, oh, my God, I can’t shush-pat her anymore.  She hates that!

Alyssa:  Yeah, it’s way too stimulating.

Chris:  Yes, which I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t text you again!  I was still in there trying to shush-pat her for hours.

Alyssa:  She’s, like, get away from me, lady!

Chris:  She’s like, all right, chill, Mom; stop!  So at that point – what did we do at that point?  We stopped shush-pat.  Oh, we started the timed-out interventions.

Alyssa:  Yeah, just going in after a certain amount of time, increasing intervals.  Yeah, and I think that worked the first day.

Chris: The first day, yeah.  I think the longest that I went was 15 minutes, and again, it’s like – I previously had thought 15 minutes of my baby crying – sounds like hell!  But once it was happening, I was like, oh, wait, I do this all the time.  Like, I’ve done this a million times.  I’ll actually just put away the dishes and make a snack and then, oh, look at the monitor – she’s asleep!  It was super easy, and she got the hang of it almost immediately.  So once I stopped trying to shush-pat her and wake her up from her ability to put herself to sleep, it was not a big deal anymore.  But yeah, same thing; that milestone came up and totally changed the sleep game.

Alyssa:  So where is she at now?

Chris:  Oh, my God, she sleeps through the night!

Alyssa:  Yay!

Chris:  I’m so happy!

Alyssa:  And how many months is she?

Chris:  She’s going to be 11 months next week, yeah, and she’s been sleeping through the night every night for, I don’t know, a couple weeks at least.

Alyssa:  Awesome.

Chris:  Yeah, it’s amazing.  And she goes down super easy for her morning nap.  It’s not even an issue anymore.  I remember I used to, in the beginning of the week, I would count how many times I would have to put her down for naps that week, so there were, like, 3 per day, 5 days in the week – the week where I’m home alone – so that would be 15 nap put-downs, and I would be, like, okay I’m at 6 out of 15.  I can do this!  And now it’s like, it doesn’t matter who puts her down for a nap because I just set her in the crib.

Alyssa:  Yeah, her body just knows it’s time.  She doesn’t fight it.  Incredible!  Yay!

Chris:  I know, it’s a game changer!

Alyssa:  And you’re feeling good?

Chris:  I’m feeling good!

Alyssa:  Your husband’s feeling good?

Chris:  Yeah, well, he got to sleep through the night for a long time.

Alyssa:  Yeah, not that it affected him too much, right?

Chris:  I was just watching him.  But I wondered this: how long do you think it takes after your baby sleeps through the night for you to feel well rested again?

Alyssa:  That’s funny because a lot of times we’ll do sleep consultations, and we’ll say, how did you sleep?  And I had one dad tell me that he heard phantom crying all night and couldn’t sleep because he was just so used to waking up.  I think their babies were 9 or 11 weeks or something.  So two months straight, you know; it’s not six months, but it’s two months.  It took them a good week or so to get back into their own groove.  So you just need to figure out your groove again.  So maybe you’re trying to stay up too late.

Chris:  I don’t know.  I do still wake up to any little noise on the monitor.  I’m like, oh, is she okay?

Alyssa:  So turn the monitor off.

Chris:  What?  You can do that?

Alyssa:  Yeah!  As soon as my daughter started sleeping through the night and was old enough that I was like, she’s so fine – monitor off.  Actually, monitor not even in my room anymore, and earplugs in.  She’s just down the hall.  If she starts crying, I’m going to hear her, but I don’t want to hear every little wakeup.  I don’t want to hear every little peep, and I still do that.  Earplugs in.

Chris:  Oh, my God.  That’s genius.  Because if she’s really crying, we can absolutely hear her.

Alyssa:  You’re going to hear her, absolutely.

Chris:  But yeah, the little rumbles in the night wake me up, and then I’m like, oh, is she okay?  And then I just watch the monitor like it’s a TV show.

Alyssa:  No, she’s good.  She’s good.  Yeah, you’re causing yourself more anxiety than you need by checking that monitor.

Chris:  Yeah.  Okay!

Alyssa:  They’re lifesavers in the beginning and especially during training because then you don’t have to get out of bed.  You can go, oh, she’s just rustling around; okay, she’s calming down; okay, she’s back asleep.  And you didn’t have to get out of bed.  But now that she’s steady and she’s got a nap schedule and she’s sleeping through the night – she’s good.

Chris:  You’re going to change my world!

Alyssa:  Go buy some earplugs when we leave!

Chris:  Yeah!

Alyssa:  Yeah, because you don’t want to wake up at every little peep.  And as a mom, it’s just that we’re always going to do that now.  Every single little noise: oh, are they okay?  Are they okay?  They’re okay.

Chris:  I love that.

Alyssa:  And my daughter is six now.  I always check in on her.  I’ll put her to bed or my husband will put her to bed, and I still, before bed, check in on her once or twice before I go to sleep because I just like that peace of mind.  I’m going to sleep now.  I’m putting my earplugs in.  I want to get a good night’s rest.  She’s okay.

Chris:  Wow.  When do you think they started making video baby monitors?

Alyssa:  I don’t know.  Good question!

Chris:  Because I often wonder, like, what did my mom do?

Alyssa:  Not that long ago.

Chris:  Not that long ago?

Alyssa:  I think it’s kind of new, like within the past decade.  Yeah, because they just had the sound ones when we were little.

Chris:  We survived!

Alyssa:  Yeah!  So what’s one tip you would give somebody about sleep training?

Chris:  Oh, my God.  Get a plan ASAP!

Alyssa:  Don’t wait?

Chris:  Don’t wait!  I honestly sometimes want to have a second kid just so I can nail it on certain things that I really struggled with this time, and one of them is sleep.  First of all, I would have gotten out of her room.  We slept in her room, a couple feet away from her, until January 1st.  She was born in June!

Alyssa:  That’s eight months!

Chris:  We slept in the same room as her for eight months!  Is that crazy?

Alyssa:  Yeah.  Well, the AAP says that you should room share for twelve months.  That’s their safe sleep guideline.  For most parents, that’s not conducive to their lifestyle.  You have to get up early for work; you have older kids.  But some people do room share for six to twelve months.  It does make sleep training a little bit more difficult because you’re hearing them and they’re hearing you.  So it’s really up to the parent.  It’s not crazy that you did it, but I think it definitely didn’t help your situation.

Chris:  Right.  Yeah, I found that we were doing exactly that.  We were both keeping each other up all night.  So when we got out of the room, that was a huge game changer, but just getting even more consistency for naps and just having a game plan instead of just all the crying for nothing.  You know, all the crying for just a hot mess and no nap.  It just feels like a waste, so then when it was, like, a few minutes of crying for a reason, it was so much easier to do because I knew it was for her good, and for my good, as well.

Alyssa:  Well, and crying just to cry does you no good.  I have clients come to me and say that they’ve tried cry it out; they’ve let her cry for two hours.  I’m like, that was for nothing.  That’s absolutely for nothing.  And that is doing your child harm and giving her unnecessary stress.  You have to have a plan, and you have to have somebody, an expert, telling you: here is the plan.  Here’s how it’s going to work.  Here’s how we execute it to get good results, because if you just try it on your own, it is all for nothing.  And it’s so hard because people give up.  Parents just want to give up.  “I tried it; didn’t work.  I give up.  I throw in the towel.  I’m just going to give in and do X, Y, and Z.” So it’s really hard.  Or people will say, oh, I did this online course.  I’m like, well, that online course doesn’t know you.  They don’t know your baby.  They don’t know your parenting style.  They don’t know what you’ve tried.  They don’t know what works and what didn’t work.  So it’s really hard.

Chris:  I downloaded, like I said, a million ebooks; did all these online courses; like, everything.  And it just, like you said, it wasn’t my baby.  I read it, and I was like, yeah, it sounds awesome to be able to do that, but my baby would never in a million years do that.  So I read all the things that I was supposed to be doing, and honestly, those just made me more anxiety because it made me feel like more of a failure.

Alyssa:  Right.  “I did it, and I’m still failing, so what is wrong?”  Or maybe that method would have worked, but they didn’t tell you how to execute it for your baby.

Chris:  Yes, or how to troubleshoot.  Like, okay, I went in and did this, and now I’m out of the room and she’s doing this – what’s next?  And when you just have a book, for me, what would be nice is to go in and grab her and breastfeed her.  Let’s get a boob in her mouth and see what happens!

Alyssa:  Well, that’s why having my one-on-one support is great because when that happens, you can text me and say, oh no!  This is not supposed to happen; what do I do?  And I can say, yes, this is supposed to happen; you did totally find; you did exactly what you needed to do.  Let’s just wait it out for five minutes.

Chris:  Yep.  The text message support over the weekend – we did that twice, right?

Alyssa:  Yeah.

Chris:  That was the 1000% game changer.  Like, I cannot even recommend that enough because those minutes when you’re feeling like you’re going to break, you know?  You’re like, oh, I don’t know what to do; I’ve got to go in there!  Instead, I would text you, and you would say, you got this!  One more minute!  Or you’d say give it ten more, and if it doesn’t work out, then go get her.  And I’d be like, okay.

Alyssa:  Or let’s try this, and if it doesn’t work again tomorrow, we’re going to think of a plan B.

Chris:  Yeah.  The text message support was the absolute game changer, and just having a human also holds you really accountable because I knew that you were going to –

Alyssa:  Yeah, I was going to text you and say, hey, what’d you do last night?  How did it go?

Chris:  Exactly, yeah.

Alyssa:  Did you move out of that room?

Chris:  Yeah, so the accountability to actually implement the things that you’re learning makes it so that you can’t back out without being a liar!

Alyssa:  Right.  I’ll know!  I’ll be checking your Instagram feed!  Make sure you’re not lying to me about this!

Chris:  But yeah, that was the biggest and best thing that we did in parenting, I think, was to figure out sleep.

Alyssa:  It’s huge.  That’s why I love it so much.  I mean, it can be detrimental to your health and your relationships to have bad sleep.  Anything else you want to say?

Chris: Definitely don’t wait to do sleep training would be what I would say!  Next time around – well, if I do a next time around – I’m going to start sleep training immediately!

Alyssa:  There are ways to start healthy sleep habits from the beginning!  It’s not sleep training; a six-week old baby can’t sleep through the night, but just helping to develop good habits.

Chris:  Yep.  Because we had no clue.  I mean, I look back at the beginning when we first got home from the hospital, and I would have her in her bassinet in the middle of the living room, middle of the day, music blaring, and I’d be like, why aren’t you going to sleep?  Just go to sleep!

Alyssa:  And now to you that seems like common sense, but when you’re in a fog and you’re sleep deprived and all you’re worried about is breastfeeding this baby and trying to get sleep, you’re not even thinking clearly enough to realize that this baby is in the middle of the room in daylight with music blaring; why won’t they sleep?  Like, it doesn’t even cross your mind that it could be an unhealthy sleep habit.

Chris:  Exactly, yeah.  So my advice is, when you are in your sleep deprived brain fog, don’t rely on your own brain!  Rely on someone else’s brain!

Alyssa:  Right.  “I’m going to do this myself, because sleep deprivation is a good place to start.”  It’s not!  Statistically, one and a half hours of lost sleep in one night, you are as impaired as a drunk driver.

Chris:  Is that for real?  One and a half hours of sleep lost in one night and you’re as impaired as a drunk driver?

Alyssa:  Mm-hmm, and we drive around our kids like this.  Yeah.

Chris: So then what is considered a full night’s sleep for an adult?

Alyssa:  Probably eight hours.  I mean, some of us need nine; some need seven.  But for you and what your body needs, if you lose an hour to two of sleep…

Chris: Wow, that’s crazy!

Alyssa:  Yeah, it’s like buzzed driving.

Chris:  Scary.  I believe it, though!

Alyssa:  I feel it.  Yeah, if I’m sleep deprived, you can feel almost your head just kind of goes into a different space.  That’s like when you’re driving and you miss your exit because you weren’t paying attention.

Chris:  Yeah, I’ve missed my own road!  Seriously, multiple times!  Or you get home and you’re like, how did I get here?

Alyssa:  Yeah, you’re in a fog!

Chris:  Good thing she’s sleeping through the night now!

Alyssa:  Awesome.  Well, thanks for joining me today!  We’ll have you on again another time to talk about your business!

Chris:  Awesome!

Alyssa:  Thanks for listening.  Remember, these moments are golden!

 

Chris’ Personal Sleep Story: Podcast Episode #73 Read More »

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.

 

Car Seat Safety: Podcast Episode #72 Read More »

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!

 

Podcast Episode #71: Bedrest Support Read More »

Baby sleep

Podcast Episode #70: Speech Delays and Sleep

Today we talk to Courtney of Building Blocks Therapy Services again about how speech delays affect sleep in older babies.  It’s a short one, but packed with good information!  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello!  Welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, and I’m here with Courtney again.  She is a speech and language pathologist with Building Blocks Therapy Services.  Hello!

Courtney:  Hello!

Alyssa:  Today I want to talk to you about sleep because I think communication is huge, and when kids can’t communicate, they throw tantrums, and tantrums don’t only happen during the day, right?

Courtney:  Correct.

Alyssa:  So it can really affect how a kid can fall asleep and how they get themselves back to sleep or their ability to get back to sleep.

Courtney:  Yes.

Alyssa:  So what would you say to parents who are struggling with maybe a speech-delayed child who’s having tantrums during the day and problems or issues at night with sleep?

Courtney:  I would say that routine is one of the biggest things to stick to, because that is really going to help the kid understand expectations.  A child who has a language delay might have difficulty understanding everything that’s happening around them, because not only are they trying to take in visually what’s happening, but there’s also so much that we provide to children auditorily, and if they’re not able to understand what we’re saying to them, then they tend to get heightened anxiety; they tend to get more tense.  As we all know, as we get worked up, it’s harder to fall asleep.  And so if routines are established, then a child is able to know what to expect.  They start to pick up on these routines, and then they might start to build that confidence and the ability that they want to help complete these routines.

Alyssa:  Yeah, kids really thrive on routine, and I always tell parents to start really early, talking to your child.  I remember talking to my daughter — like, I would narrate everything to her, everything I was seeing, everything I was doing, and she always knew where we were going.  She knew that it was time to change her diaper or time to put PJs on.  I guess it’s setting an expectation from the beginning of what to expect, which leads to a level of trust because they know that you are saying what we’re going to do; I’m already telling you.  There won’t be any surprises, and I’m going to react accordingly.  I don’t know; I just think it’s the basis of this foundation of trust between parent and child.

Courtney:  Absolutely, and that follow-through because it pulls at that trust that the child has.  We are going to sleep; it’s time for sleep.  I also think that children who do have a language delay or disorder tend to take in things more if you support them visually.  That helps them build on auditorily what they’re hearing, so even pictures of brushing our teeth; reading —

Alyssa:  You’ve sent me those before, and I love that.  Explain that a little more.  So maybe a 12- or 18-month-old that is speech delayed and isn’t really talking, but wants this routine, and maybe the parents are trying to set this routine.  But they can understand pictures?

Courtney:  Yes, they can!  You know, as we help children develop, we give them picture books and we talk about those books, and as you can probably see, you know, a 12-month-old can open a book and pretend they’re reading the book and point to different things, and so they take those things in visually.  They tend to learn better visually, and that’s not going to hinder them learning auditorily in any way; it’s going to help support that.  They’ll start to associate, “Time to brush your teeth!” if you show the picture of brushing your teeth.  They’re going to go right to the bathroom and know what to do.  If they’re thirsty, to get that drink, or oh, now it’s time for bed.  They start walking into the bedroom.  And they will typically start to complete that routine without you having to say it, and their body will be at a calmer state.  In essence, that’s going to help a child be able to fall asleep a little bit easier.

Alyssa:  Yeah, having anxiety around the bedtime routine and then waking up — like, then the parents have anxiety because they’re dreading putting this child to bed, and they’re dreading when are they going to wake up?  Are they going to wake up at midnight?  Are they going to wake up at 3:00 AM?  How long will they be awake?  And then both child and parents have anxiety, which they feed off each other.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Courtney:  Exactly, and I’ve brought up before that when you go to a different country and you don’t know the language and you’re trying to communicate, you get so dense and anxiety-ridden, and you just kind of wonder, well, something doesn’t feel right, especially for a 12-month-old.  They’re not going to know exactly what doesn’t feel right, and so they tend to act out because that’s how they’re going to release that energy.

Alyssa:  Well, for the clients who are working with me on sleep, I’ve recommended some of them to you, so I will continue to do in the future!  If anyone has specific questions for you, where do they find you?

Courtney:  I have a website.  I also have a Facebook page at Building Blocks Therapy Services, and you can email me at buildingblockstherapyservices@gmail.com

Alyssa:  Perfect! Thanks for joining us again!

 

Podcast Episode #70: Speech Delays and Sleep Read More »

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!

 

Podcast Episode #69: Postpartum Fitness Read More »

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.

 

Podcast Episode #68: Overnight Doula Support Read More »

sleep coach

Podcast Episode #67: Dominique’s Sleep Story

One of Alyssa’s past sleep clients tells us her story about hiring an expert to solve her daughter’s sleep issues.  She is honest about the fears she had going into it, the misconceptions and myths about sleep training that were dispelled while working with Alyssa, and how on the first day they saw improvement!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello!  Welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, and today, I’m super excited to be meeting for the first time and talking with Dominique.  She was one of my past sleep clients.  Welcome!

Dominique:  Thank you for the welcome!  I’m excited to be here!

Alyssa:  Yeah!  So I want to hear a little bit about what was happening at home and with sleep before you reached out to me.

Dominique:  Yeah.  So she is 11 months now, and before we reached out, it was getting to a point where she wasn’t taking naps, and if she was taking naps, it was, like, 15 minutes at a time.  She was fussy all day.  We were having to rock her to sleep for every single nap and bedtime, and that took 20 minutes.

Alyssa:  So you would spend 20 minutes to get a 15-minute nap?

Dominique:  Yes.  Yes!  So it was getting to a point where she didn’t seem like she was getting good sleep, and then we were just getting so frustrated.  And I know you can’t expect a brand-new baby to sleep amazingly and to sleep through the night all the time, but she was not getting enough sleep, so it was just…

Alyssa:  And she was nine months when you reach out?  Does that sound about right?

Dominique:  I think she was seven months when we reached out, yeah, just because I had read that if you were doing some sleep training, to kind of wait until about six months, so we decided to reach out around seven months, yeah.

Alyssa:  I have different opinions about when to reach out!

Dominique:  We may have waited a little too long!

Alyssa:  Well, even by six months, that’s six months of forming some really bad sleep habits.  And so before then, it’s really more of healthy sleep habits.  You can’t really train a nine-week old baby.  They’re not ready to sleep through the night, but there are some really healthy things that you can start incorporating during the day and at night to set yourself up for success at six months.  So, yeah, it would have been a lot easier if you’d reached out earlier, but I’m glad you didn’t wait until 18 months!

Dominique:  Yeah, I’m glad too, and I think if we have more kids in the future, we probably will incorporate some of the stuff that we learned, yeah.

Alyssa:  Start a little earlier, yeah.  So were you hesitant to start?  What kind of fears or maybe even misconceptions did you have about sleep training before I worked with you?

Dominique:  So I guess the biggest thing was that doing research and reading, I read a lot about crying it out and how it increases cortisol levels in babies, so they’re stressed out, and then they are learning how to cope on their own and they stay elevated, so they’re not learning how to be comforted, and instead they’re just crying themselves to sleep.  So I was like, well, I don’t want to do that!  I don’t want to set her up for not wanting to reach out to us for comfort, but then it also seemed like she was not happy because she was fussy and irritable all the time because she wasn’t sleeping.

Alyssa:  So she was still crying all day, anyway.

Dominique:  Yeah!  So I was like, okay, there’s got to be some other ways to do this.

Alyssa:  It blows my mind that people can still find information about cry-it-out online because I don’t know any sleep consultant who — I mean, letting a baby cry themselves to sleep just doesn’t even make sense to me.  They don’t cry themselves to sleep.  They might fuss themselves to sleep because they’re hearing themselves chatter, but yeah, those elevated cortisol levels for crying for two hours?  No baby should sit in the crib alone and cry for two hours.  I can’t stress that enough.  I don’t even know who recommends that.

Dominique:  And people say, well, oh, so you just let her cry in her crib?  Well, no, we don’t just let her cry in her crib, but she had no self-soothing methods.  She wasn’t self-soothing at all, so it was just like she doesn’t know how to go to bed unless we rock her.

Alyssa:  So from what you remember, how long — well, I’ll go back.  When you got my plan, was there anything that you were like, oooh, I don’t know about this?  Or did it make sense?

Dominique:  I think it made sense, all the different methods that you had mentioned to us.  They all seemed pretty reasonable.  The method where you sit in the room and kind of back out —

Alyssa:  Oh, a gradual withdrawal?

Dominique:  Yeah, gradual withdrawal, yeah.  It seemed worse.  When we were in the room, it was like she — it wasn’t — she wanted to lay down and know that we were right there.  It was like, why are you in the room and you’re not picking me up?  So that did not work for her.

Alyssa:  Yep, you have to figure out and know your baby’s temperament.  It’s first and foremost what drives the sleep method you use, because oftentimes these ones where the parents are in the room with the child, it’s way too stimulating.  Baby is either like, you’re here; why aren’t you touching me?  Why aren’t you holding me?  Or, hey, it’s party time.  I’m going to get up and I’m going to sing and dance in the crib because you’re here.  So I’m glad you noticed that.

Dominique:  Yeah, we kind of figured out that it was better for her that we didn’t sit in the room, but it did help for us to go back in periodically and soothe her.

Alyssa:  So how long, do you remember, until you started to see results?

Dominique:  Oh, man.  The first night!  So I think we started with bedtime, not her naps, because we got your plan, and I was going to be off work for a few days, so that first night, instead of rocking her for 20 minutes, we did her bedtime routine, which was another thing that we incorporated.  Instead of nursing her to sleep, I was nursing her and then we would change into pajamas, wash her face, read her a book, and then put her to bed.  And so that very first night, we laid her down, and she cried.  We did three minutes, and then went in for 30 seconds, and then three minutes.  And I think it was two rounds.  So she cried for three minutes; I went in; she cried for another three minutes; I went in; and then it was quiet in her room.

Alyssa:  You’re like, oh, my gosh; what’s going on?  What’s happening?

Dominique:  And I looked over at my husband, and I was like, this can’t be real!

Alyssa:  Are you kidding me, right?!

Dominique:  So it was amazing.  She went to sleep, and I think that first night, she slept for about six hours, and then she got up to nurse, and then she went back to sleep fine.  So yeah, the first night!

Alyssa:  Yeah, so a lot of times, it’s just allowing them the opportunity to fall asleep on their own.  I can’t tell you how many parents are like, oh, my baby has to be nursed; my baby has to be rocked; I don’t let my baby cry.  Well, three minutes of crying — it’s not a lot, right?

Dominique:  No, no.

Alyssa:  If you consider all the crying she’s done because of lack of sleep and overtiredness, three minutes is nothing.

Dominique:  Nothing!

Alyssa:  And that’s all she needed to literally soothe herself to sleep.  That’s what she did!

Dominique:  Yeah, and we felt good about it.  It wasn’t like we felt like we were neglecting her by letting her cry in her crib.  It was just like she put herself to sleep, and now she’s getting a good chunk of sleep.  So we were really happy with it!

Alyssa:  Yeah, sometimes it’s just kind of looking at sleep a different way and realizing that cry-it-out means you put your crying baby in a crib; you shut the door; you walk away, and you don’t go back in.  And nobody wants to do that!  I don’t want to do that!  But, you know, talking about cortisol levels, it’s a natural response to anything.  You know, your baby goes to the doctor; you go to the dentist.  Our cortisol — it’s a flight or fight thing.  The thing with a baby that helps bring that back down is a loving caregiver, so she has you and Dad right there.  You’re the buffer in this situation, so even crying for three minutes, her cortisol levels might rise a little bit, but then you came in after three minutes, and she saw you were there.  And I talk about sleep cues sometimes, like saying goodnight, I love you.  You know, you have these sleep cues that you repeat, and then their cortisol levels go back down.  And then they might fuss for a few more minutes, and then they’re out.  It just happens!

Dominique:  It was amazing!

Alyssa:  Is there anything else that you had maybe thought that I would have told you — I guess were there any other surprises from those misconceptions?  Anything that you felt like, oh, I can’t believe she’s telling me to do this, or I can’t believe she’s not telling me to do that?

Dominique:  I guess in the first email we got with the plan, I think you had said her first nap should be 60 to 90 minutes, and then her second nap should be 90 to 120 minutes, and I was, like, there’s no way she’s going to sleep!  Up until that point, her naps had been maybe a half an hour during the day, and she was getting maybe two naps a day.  So then we tried it with her naps, and she did sleep an hour that first nap, and then we got a couple of longer hour and a half naps.  We’ve only gotten a few two-hour naps out of her, but that was a big shock because I was, like, man, she really hasn’t been getting as much sleep as she should have been getting.

Alyssa:  Well, and it’s funny because we think she’s so tired during the day; she’s not napping; she just has to be tired enough to sleep all night.  And it’s counterintuitive.  They need sleep during the day so they don’t get overly tired, and then they don’t fight sleep at night.  So right now, at 11 months, though, that morning nap should only be 30 minutes, FYI.  I don’t know what you’re doing right now.

Dominique:  So her naps have still been a little bit of a battle, and we’ve kind of gotten to a point where we’re letting her sleep for that first nap because that seems to be her best nap of the day, and if we cut it short, sometimes she doesn’t take a good nap the rest of the day.  So we’re still kind of tweaking that a little bit because —

Alyssa:  Is she sleeping through the night with one feed, then?

Dominique:  Yes, and we’ve cut out her nighttime feed now.

Alyssa:  So she can go all night, like a full twelve hours?

Dominique:  Not a full twelve.  She will sleep from about 6:30 and then she’s still waking up around 4:30, 5:00, so then we put her back to sleep.  So it’s not perfect, but we haven’t quite figured out how to make those little switches.  So shortening her first nap, lengthening her second nap, and then putting her to bed closer to 7:00.

Alyssa:  Yeah, so having a really long morning nap encourages that early morning wakeup.  So I would try for a later bedtime; 7:00, 7:30.  And don’t let her sleep longer than a half an hour in the morning.

Dominique:  Okay!  All right!

Alyssa:  A little added tip there!

Dominique:  I trust you!  I’ll try it!

Alyssa:  Yeah, we want her to sleep from — I mean, not every baby will sleep the full twelve hours, but if she’s going to bed at 7:30, I would think no earlier than 6:30.  That’s eleven-ish hours depending on when she falls asleep.

Dominique:  And that would be nice because getting up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning is not ideal.

Alyssa:  And then remember that 2-3-4 rule.  So after she wakes up, she’ll be tired after about two hours, and then three hours after that wakeup.  So let’s say you have an ideal — let’s say she wakes up at 7:00 in the morning.  She should go down for that first nap at 9:00 and sleep from 9:00 to 9:30, and then three hours after that, which would be 12:30, she should have a two-hour nap.  An hour and a half is fine; not all babies sleep two hours.  But at her age, she should want to sleep about an hour and a half.

Dominique:  Okay, and we have been doing that, the 2-3-4.  It’s just she’s been getting up so early, so if she gets up at 6:00, we’re putting her down for her first nap at 8:00 in the morning, which does seem really early to us.

Alyssa:  But she’s also going to bed really early.  6:30 is pretty early.

Dominique:  Yeah, and sometimes by 6:00.

Alyssa:  And you can’t just put her to bed at 7:00 tonight if she’s been up since 5:30. It’s a slow, 15 to 30-minute increments.  But you have the added fun of daylight savings time, which messes everybody up.  And probably by the time this episode airs, it will be past daylight savings, but we can still talk about it.  And it might actually help you.  So let’s see: spring forward.  7:00 is really going to 8:00, so her 6:00, 6:30 bedtime is going to be 7:30.  So you might not want to push it too far.

Dominique:  Yeeha, I think our situation is a little unique for that because we need to adjust her bedtime, whereas some people, they want to keep their kid on their 7:00 schedule, so they have to adjust backwards.

Alyssa:  Yeah, you have to do it slowly.  Like, with my daughter, I’ve been putting her to bed early; every night, a little bit earlier, to get her to that point.  But yeah, I would try for a later bedtime, and that morning nap is what’s screwing up your morning wakeup.  It’s just too long.

Dominique:  Yeah, unfortunately!  I’m like, okay, her morning nap — I’ve got to get stuff done!

Alyssa:  Well, make it in the afternoons, instead, because that’s the nap she’s going to have until she’s two, three, maybe even four, that afternoon nap.  And think about when you go to childcare; you know, naps at 12:30 or 1:00.

Dominique:  All right, we’ll make some adjustments!

Alyssa:  Anything else?  What would you tell people about sleep consults that you think people need to know?

Dominique:  I would say it’s worth it, and I’ve had a lot of people say, you know, what did you do for sleep, and then I explain what we did, and I say, “But we needed some help.”  Like, it was just getting too frustrating, and I would just say it’s not cry-it-out like you think it is, just shutting the door and letting them cry, because I do think that’s a big misconception.  So I would just say, look in to a sleep consultant, or just don’t take everything you read on the internet and apply it!

Alyssa:  Well, and there’s so much information, but again, adjusting it to your specific family and your specific child, because I could have just given you, hey, my method is gradual withdrawal, and there you go.  And then you’re doing this with your child and she’s like, this is not working.  Yeah, it’s way too stimulating for her.  So you can’t just give an end-all, one-fix method for every family.  So that’s the hard part.  You could read a hundred books, but you would need to have the ability to discern which method works for your family, and then have somebody there coaching you and holding your hand.  And a big part of what I do is holding you accountable.  Did you do this?  How is it going?  So that nap… We’re not working together anymore, but I can’t help myself; I have to tell you that nap is too long in the morning!

Dominique:  Yes, I figured you might say that!

Alyssa:  You’re like, don’t ask; don’t ask; please don’t ask!

Dominique:  But no, it was definitely worth it, and it was nice that you kind of explained the different methods and we could figure out which one would work best.

Alyssa:  Sometimes, I know that there’s one that’s going to work, and that’s the one I suggest.  Sometimes, I’m like, okay, based on your personality and your parenting style, I’m going to give you a few options.  Here’s what I would recommend, but I want the parents to feel comfortable moving forward, and oftentimes, I still know which one I would recommend.  Like you, you need to go through and say, oh, well, gradual withdrawal seems really more my parenting style, and I understand that it’s going to be a slower process.  But you’re like, nope, didn’t work.  So let’s move on to this one; let’s try that.  Nope, didn’t work.  But oftentimes what happens is a parent tries that one; it fails, and they give up and they’re done.  They think sleep training didn’t work and it’s junk.  So I get it.

Dominique:  No!  Keep going!

Alyssa:  I get why parents feel frustrated.  And how is she doing now?

Dominique:  She’s doing really well.  She’s starting to walk.  Well, she is walking, so she’s very busy, so we’re keeping up with her now.  But yeah, she’s doing really good!

Alyssa:  Awesome.  Well, thank you so much.  I love hearing stories from clients!  Did I ever get a picture of her?  I love getting pictures of babies.  You’ll have to show me before you go.

Dominique:  I’ll do that!

Alyssa:  Well, thanks again for joining me!

 

Podcast Episode #67: Dominique’s Sleep Story Read More »

Rise Wellness Chiropractic

Podcast Episode #66: Ear Infections

Today we talk with Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness Chiropractic to learn more about ear infections.  What are the signs in children and how can chiropractic care help?  Can it also help adults?  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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

Alyssa:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we also have Dr. Rachel.

Dr. Rachel:  Hello!

Kristin:  And Dr. Annie.

Dr. Annie:  Hiya!

Kristin:  From Rise Wellness here with us today, and our topic is ear infections in children, and certainly, we can also cover adults.  So, Dr. Annie, I’ll let you take the lead on this.  How can chiropractic care help with ear infections?

Dr. Annie:  Crazy, right?  So what we find with a lot of ear infection cases is that it’s related to how the nervous system is functioning, and so we find a lot of upper cervical, so upper neck misalignment affecting the nervous system, and affects how your ears drain.  And so in kiddos or in adults, that’s usually the culprit, at least that’s what we find in our office, and it’s amazing what a simple adjustment can do to reawaken the nervous system in those areas and allow your ears to just drain and then allow your immune system to take care of it.

Kristin:  Ear infections are no fun, especially with babies.  I think the biggest thing is catching it early enough and identifying what the signs of an ear infection would be before it gets so bad that they need to go in and get scans and get antibiotics.  So if they’re getting chiropractic care, then they’re able to, again, like you said, get drainage.  But I think a lot of parents don’t know what the signs are of an ear infection, unless it gets to the point where it’s so bad that their baby is screaming and not sleeping.  But there are some signs that I learned as a parent that I could catch early on.

Dr. Annie:  What are those signs?

Kristin:  My daughter had one when I was pregnant with my son and I had to take her in, but she was pulling on her ears.  So if they’re pulling, and obviously if the ear is red — again, as we had mentioned in a previous podcast about that preference where if they’re not laying on their head on one side — so it’s just noticing what’s out of the norm for them.

Dr. Rachel:  I think a lot of times they’ll have a cold, too, right?  Because then that’s not draining well, so usually it’s an issue, and the bacteria builds up in there and creates an infection.

Dr. Annie:  And it’s hard with little kids because you don’t necessarily — a lot of parents will confuse teething with ear infections, too, which is a big thing because a lot of drainage comes out when a baby is teething, too, so that can appear to be like a cold, and some kids will be put on antibiotics when it’s not even any sort of infection.

Kristin:  So what’s an adjustment like for a baby with an ear infection or just too much fluid in their ears?  Can you explain what that would be like?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, sure!  So with anything, whether it’s an ear infection or whatever a parent is coming in for with their baby, what we’re looking for is subluxation.  We’re looking for misalignment of the bone that’s affecting the nervous system there.  And so we would do a scan to see how the nervous system is communicating at that area, and then the adjustment itself is just super gentle pressure with your pinkie.  We say it’s the amount of pressure that you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato.  It’s so gentle, to the point where parents are like, are you even doing anything?  But it’s amazing what it can do.  It will clear up the scan.  It will help —

Alyssa:  So you can do your little scan on a baby?  Do they lay on their tummy and you scan them?

Dr. Rachel:  Mom holds, and we can scan them, and then we’ll show the irritated area, which is usually in the upper cervical area.

Dr. Annie:  It’s like every single time, we’re like, okay, we’re pretty sure this is what’s going on, and then we do the scan, and we’re like, yeah, exactly what we thought.  It’s that upper cervical misalignment, that atlas.  But the reason is those nerves that come out right there in the neck control the eustachian tube or the muscle that controls the eustachian tube.  The nerve that goes to that controls the contraction of that muscle, so if that muscle’s not contracting, then the eustachian tube can’t milk fluid down, so then you get that fluid buildup in the ears, which is going to cause pressure, and a lot of those ear infection symptoms.  Bacteria can grow in there, and that’s usually further down the line, but that’s why they are giving antibiotics for those things.  So usually if you catch it, there isn’t even a bacterial infection.  It’s just that buildup of fluid that’s causing pressure, that’s causing that irritation.  So if we can correct that early and get that muscle working the way it’s supposed to, then the ears can drain and life’s good.

Dr. Rachel:  It sounds like you’re catching an ear infection?

Alyssa:  My ear started hurting yesterday, so I’m going to come see you and get adjusted!  It’s on the same side that I’ve had that weird kink, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.

Dr. Annie:  It’s all connected.

Alyssa:  I’ll come have you fix me when we’re done.

Dr. Annie:  Perfect!

Kristin:  And I was having issues just last week with my ears popping or feeling like they couldn’t clear, and so I saw both Dr. Rachel and Dr. Annie, and I feel great right now!  So even if it’s not a full-on infection, if you’re feeling like your ears are just not right, like they’re popping or you feel like you have water in the ear…

Dr. Annie:  Or ringing in the ears, dizziness, stuff like that.  I mean, it’s all related to that upper cervical spine, for sure.

Kristin:  Yeah, it makes sense.  So with a lot of these cases, they would need to just get in quickly, especially if they think their child has an ear infection.  How would they go about reaching out to you if they’re not a current patient?  How do they start that process?

Dr. Annie:  They can find our information on our website .   They can contact us on Facebook or Instagram, too, and send us a message.  Both of those are @risewellnesschiro.  Or they can call us.

Dr. Rachel:  You can schedule your own appointment on our website.

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, we try to make it really accessible, but we’ll also answer email anytime.  We’re always on.  Even if we don’t always answer the phone, we’re always…

Alyssa:  That’s the motto of a business owner!  You’re always on!

Dr. Annie:  Especially with things like that, we want that to be your first response, to get your kid into the chiropractor.  And so we want to be there for you when those situations arise.  It’s not like a medical emergency, but to us, we want that to be your first line of defense, and then if things go awry from there, maybe seek treatment if needed, but usually, it’s not.  Typically, we can clear some things up just by allowing the body to work naturally the way it’s supposed to.

Kristin:  Yeah.  Now, I don’t know a whole lot about tubes in the ear, but what — I mean, could chiropractic care prevent the need to get tubes?

Dr. Annie:  So the tubes are to release pressure, so when I was talking about that nerve maybe not working or not communicating with that muscle the way it’s supposed to, if that muscle isn’t milking fluid down the ears, then you have that buildup of pressure.  And so, often, to relieve that pressure, then tubes will be put in.  And so what they do is they cut a little hole and then put a block in there so that hole can’t heal, because your body would heal it and just cover it up again, and then that pressure would build back up.  So they put like a little tunnel in there to keep it open to relieve that pressure, like a pressure valve, but really, the need for that wouldn’t be necessary if things were working properly.

Dr. Rachel:  One thing to note is if a kid has an ear infection, they come in, and they get adjusted, and maybe it clears up and they feel better right away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t get another ear infection again.  It’s one of those things, like, kids walk and they fall and they’re rolling and they’re hitting their heads.  They can get a misalignment again, and that just might be how their body responds to that.  So just because you get adjusted once and you get another ear infection later, it doesn’t mean that chiropractic didn’t work.  It means that — like I said, my kids have been adjusted since birth.  They get adjusted whenever they need to.  It’s not like a one-time thing and then they’re good to go.

Kristin:  And you said they haven’t had any ear infections as a result?

Dr. Rachel:  No, they’ve never had an ear infection.

Alyssa:  Well, especially kids — I mean, the amount of times a day my daughter falls or bumps into something — even me.  I’m just as clumsy.

Dr. Rachel:  The twins pull each other down now.  They pull each other down on the ground.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I probably misalign myself three times a day!

Dr. Rachel:  Right.  So it’s just one of those things, too, that I feel like sometimes people think, oh, they just need one adjustment and they’re good to go, but it’s also true that adjustment isn’t only good for ear infections.  It’s just good to keep their nervous and immune system going.

Dr. Annie:  Everything working in coordination.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah.  And they respond really well to adjustments.  Not that they have to come in three times a week; it’s more like just keeping up a maintenance thing to keep your kids checked.

Dr. Annie: That kind of depends, too, as far as what our recommendations would be, like how long that misalignment has been there.  In a previous episode, we talked about birth trauma, and so if that misalignment has been there since birth, if the kid’s never been checked, and now they’re two or four or five and having chronic ear infections, it may take a little longer for them to respond, just because we’re working against time.

Kristin:  That makes sense.

Dr. Rachel: So it’s better, like you said, to get them checked after birth.

Dr. Annie:  Yep, prevent those things from happening, exactly.

Kristin:  Thanks for joining us today!

 

Podcast Episode #66: Ear Infections Read More »

HypnoBirthing Story

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story

Today we talk with a previous HypnoBirthing student, Annette Beitzel, about her personal experience with HypnoBirthing at Gold Coast Doulas.  Although she didn’t use it how she intended, it had an incredible impact on her pregnancy and birth experience.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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

Alyssa:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we’ve got Annette Beitzel here.

Annette:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we are talking about Annette’s experience with taking HypnoBirthing class back in 2016.  So thanks for coming on!  First of all, as far as all of your options of out-of-hospital childbirth classes, what made you choose HypnoBirthing?

Annette:  Honestly, I heard about it on a podcast, and it just sounded cool.  At first, just the name HypnoBirthing sounds really kooky, like, oh, yeah, those people!  But just hearing the person’s experience with it, it was like, oh, my goodness.  This sounds like exactly what I want.  I already had planned on natural birth at a birthing center.  That was my goal, and so it just felt like it fit really well with what my goals were.  Breathing is better than medication, right?

Kristin:  Of course, yes!

Annette:  So yeah, it just sounded like it fit well.

Kristin:  Perfect.  And did you have any reservations about HypnoBirthing, when you think of hypnosis?  When people call our office and ask questions about HypnoBirthing, they get a little freaked out by the “hypno” aspect of it.

Annette:  I think that because I heard about it on a podcast with a person who really explained it right away as just relaxing yourself; that’s what you’re doing; you’re doing it to yourself.  Nobody is coming in with a watch on a chain!

Kristin:  That’s what people imagine, for sure!

Annette:  It was harder to explain to my husband.  I was like, okay, just listen to this podcast.  This will help you understand what I heard.   Because it is; it’s one of those weird things.  It just sounds that way, right?

Kristin:  Right!  And you mentioned your husband, so again, one question we get a lot about the class is that people feel like with hypnosis, it’s internal, even with self-relaxation and visualizations.  How is your husband involved in both the class as well as your birth using that technique?

Annette:  So in the class, you do all the same exercises.  A lot of it is dealing with your fears and just understanding the process, and so men come in with those things, too, right?  Maybe not the same ones or different ways, but they still have their expectations of what birth will be.  And so I think he found it really helpful to really get an expert explaining what’s really happening, that women’s bodies are made for this.  And then also they do all of the “hypnosis” along with the women, so everyone is doing it together.  I mean, it would feel really weird if the men or the partners were just sitting there watching, but they’re involved.  It was all group things, so he understood what I was doing.  There were some exercises that he would sort of help me.  I don’t remember the different things, like tapping or different things like that, and so he sometimes played a more active role.  But also, I think, if I had gone by myself, he wouldn’t have really understood what I was doing in birth because the way it all ended up, he didn’t do really anything.  And so I think he would have been, like, oh, my goodness; I’ve done nothing; nothing’s happened here; I’m useless.  But he knew what I was doing.  He knew I was inside myself.  He knew that I was relaxed.  He knew all of those things, and so I think it really helped him just understand what was going on and not be like, “Oh, do I need to do anything?!”

Alyssa:  I have not gone through the class.  I’ve tried to set myself outside of this as a person listening who doesn’t know what HypnoBirthing is, and I’m thinking it still sounds hokey.  So when you say “hypnosis,” what kinds of things are you doing in the class, and why isn’t it hokey?

Annette:  Right!  Because it works would be the main reason I’d say it’s not hokey.  So basically all she does is go through a reading of something, and she uses a very soothing, calm voice, so it’s easy to sort of stop thinking that you’re in this room, in this place.  You just close your eyes, and you think about what she’s saying.  I think the first one you do, she has you raise your hand as if a balloon is raising you up or something.  And so you just kind of realize, like, oh, I can go outside of my brain.  I can come back into my self-conscious, or I can sort of disconnect a little bit.  And that’s all me.  I’m listening to her, right, but it’s all me just choosing what I want to focus on, how I want to move my thoughts or my energy.  So I don’t know; it does sound a bit ridiculous, and even in the first class, she’s totally talking about that.  She’s like, I know this is weird.  I know it sounds weird, but you’re relaxing yourself.  Don’t think hypnosis; think relaxation.  That’s what you’re doing here.  And is there anything better for birth?

Kristin:  Exactly, opening up and relaxing — that’s key to it!

Annette:  So, yeah, to me, listening to a big explanation of what it really was from an expert was really helpful.  These are the steps you can take, and this is how it can benefit you.  But for me actually being in the class, it was like, yeah, okay; this is me; this just me relaxing; this is me choosing what I’m thinking about, what I’m focusing on.  If I want to think about my fears, that’s going to make me tense up or stress out.  Or I can think about a flower opening up, and I’m sure that sounds silly, but that’s sure a lot more relaxing than, “Am I going to go to a C-section?!”  It’s what do I want to choose to think about, and how will that help me give birth the way that I want to.

Kristin:  And certainly it goes over the basic physiology of what your body is going through, understanding the stages of labor and what’s normal, and for those birthing in the hospital, a little bit about what the hospital experience is like, as well as breastfeeding.  So anything an out-of-hospital class would cover, in addition to changing the language of birth.  That’s one of the things as a doula that I love the most is just changing some the fear-based words.  I mean, contraction already sounds like you’re tensed up, and just looking at “surge” as a more opening, positive word, and not looking at pain.  You know, you go to the hospital, and it’s like, what’s your pain threshold.  They ask you that, like, ten times during labor.  So just sort of changing that language and using affirmations, which I love.  Being positive and just being relaxed.  And the fear releases you do in task — can you talk a little bit about that experience, of doing a fear release?

Annette:  Yeah, that was really interesting.  So I think that my husband actually experienced that one more deeply than I did because I remember the whole thing.  I remember going in the book and pulling out pages and saying, I’m not going to be afraid of this.  This is okay.  I already know the facts because we’ve gone over what do I expect.  Can my body handle this?  Very likely, yes!  And so for him, he doesn’t remember it at all.  He was so relaxed and so into it that he — which is an interesting aspect.  Talking about the different affirmations and stuff, you listen to something that’s about 30 minutes long every night, and to me, that was one of the main things that I really did that was super consistent.  I listened to it every single night, and it’s Rainbow Relaxation.  So it goes through all these colors of the rainbow, and I think by the second color of the rainbow, I’d be asleep every night.  And she was like, that’s totally fine.  You can sleep, and it’s relaxing, and you’re still hearing it, and it’s fine.  And I remember a couple of times, I would wake up at the end, which means I wasn’t actually asleep, I was just in that super entranced state where I was really relaxed, really in my subconscious and feeling it.  And it was just such a weird feeling, because you’re like, oh, my goodness; I was awake this whole time.  I was hearing these things, but I didn’t really feel that awake.  So it’s amazing what your brain can do and just how relaxed you can really get.  So with the fear, I don’t think that I came in with the same fears that a lot of people do.  I already had two sisters-in-law go through natural births at birthing centers, so I was kind of like, yeah, this it totally doable.  I’m not experiencing terrifying birth stories all the time.  I came in with relatively positive expectations.  And then going through the actual information part of it, it’s amazing.  I mean, she really explains to you what is this; how does it work.  Your body is made to do this!  Now, I have to caveat that my sister-in-law — another one — her pelvis cannot.  It doesn’t work.  So it doesn’t work for everyone, but for the vast majority, our bodies can do this.  And that was my experience, too.  I didn’t do anything for labor.  It was just there, and he came out, and there we were.  I don’t think that the fear thing for me was the biggest part of it.  The biggest thing for me was the relaxation, and even through my whole pregnancy, I had a miserable pregnancy.  I had SPD starting at 14 weeks, which is symphysis pubis dysfunction.  I could not walk without excruciating pain.  I couldn’t put my pants on.  I couldn’t do anything; it was just horrible.  And I was pretty down about it.  It was really frustrating because I was going to be the active, pregnant woman that was going out walking all the time and keeping active, and I just couldn’t.  Talking to Ashley about that, she just helped me reframe everything, and the last couple of months of my pregnancy were just completely different.  I was so much more positive; I was so much more relaxed and comfortable, and even though there was still pain, I wasn’t just grumpy all the time.  And I had been up to that point.  I would say my husband was probably really glad we took the HypnoBirthing, even just for my pregnancy.  I was just so much more at peace, and it was so, so helpful with that aspect of it.  So even before we got to the birth, I already felt like HypnoBirthing is amazing because look at my outlook on this pregnancy.  It’s okay.

Alyssa:  So you had the ideal birth where you said you didn’t have to do anything; it just happened.  So what kind of tips or advise would you give for parents for whom that doesn’t happen or if they know they’re getting a C-section.  Would HypnoBirthing still benefit them, and how?

Annette:  Oh, absolutely!  So first of all, I would not say I had the ideal birth.  He came out without my working for it, but I actually had some really intense bleeding the night before.  I was planning on a birth center and ended up in a hospital because my midwife just didn’t want to touch this; this is scary; could be placental abruption.  You know, we didn’t know.  So I checked into a hospital at 6:30 in the morning.  We thought I was probably at a 6 or a 7.  I wasn’t really having intense surges; I wasn’t feeling that much pain.  It was there, but it felt more like Braxton Hicks at that point still; maybe a little stronger.  We knew I was in labor.  They had found that out before because I had actually been in the hospital earlier that night and went home.  So at midnight, my water had broken, and 6:30, I’m in the hospital.  We were like, yeah, nothing is really happening yet.  But it was still a little scary.  I was in the hospital and I didn’t really want to be in the hospital, but they went with my birthing plan, which was like an emergency birthing plan, which unfortunately I had to use.  So I’m sitting in this hospital.  She turned down the lights for me.  She’s doing intake paperwork because I’m not supposed to be there, and I’m answering questions between the surges, and all of a sudden, I felt him move into the birth path, and I was like, oh, I feel him moving down right now.  And she’s like, oh, good good!  I’m like, no, no, he’s coming!  And they were like, okay…  And I rolled over away from her; I’m not going to answer any more questions right now.  And they checked me, and I was at a 10.  And this is six hours or seven hours after my water had broken.  So it was so, so fast.  He was born 20 minutes later.  It was actually too fast.  He didn’t get properly squeezed out, so he was vomiting up stuff the next night, which is scary in its own right.  So yeah, they were, like, oh, don’t push!  I’m like, honestly, anything that happened was involuntary.  And then the doctor got there.  He came out ten minutes after the doctor was there, and he was there telling me, you might want to hold your breath!  And I was like, no, I don’t!  I remember that conversation.  I remember when he was crowning.  They told me, oh, he’s crowning.  And I was, like, wait, I thought this was supposed to be a ring of fire.  Where’s the fire?  And that was my thought while he was crowning.  I was just relaxed.  That’s all I can say.  We did not have time for listening to any of the meditations.  We didn’t do anything during the actual birth because even during the night, I was sleeping most of the time.  So I feel like I barely did a HypnoBirthing, other than the fact that I was relaxed and I was breathing.  And that’s what I really took from all of the classes and all of the work, which is part of the reason I wanted to do this, because it was like, hey, I didn’t even really do it, but it still worked, right?  I didn’t spend 12 hours listening to relaxation things and breathing him down.  I did breathe him down, but very quickly!  So yeah, I had a second degree tear and there was all sorts of other things, but my placenta was getting old.  They said that was part of the reason for the bleeding, and so there was reason for concern, which I would also say, the whole time, it was like I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but all right, here we are.   I think just the knowledge of everything — I never freaked out.  I wasn’t worried.  It was just like, okay, well, this is what’s happening now.  And just very — I think I was very go with the flow.  And my husband and everyone else was kind of freaking out.  I was texting my family because they’re in another state.  I told them I was going to the hospital because there’s lot of bleeding and they think it might be this and whatever, and they were all freaking out.  And then 20 minutes later, we’re sending a picture of a baby.  Okay, well, I guess it was okay!  So, yeah, it was an ideal birth, and also completely not what I was expecting or planning.  I was going to be in a birthing tub all night long, right?  That was my plan!  But even without going along with the plan, it still was just completely changed how I was approaching everything, how I felt about it, what I was even thinking about.  I was thinking about my breath and feeling him in my body.  Everything else was so peripheral.  Oh, there’s doctors out there.  I even remember looking up, like, oh, look at all these faces I have never seen before.  I think there were five or six people at the end of the bed!  And I was like, all right, well, here we go then!  And all of it was so — I just got the inevitability of a birth.  It was going to happen.  It didn’t matter what I was doing.  It didn’t matter what they did.  Here we are in this place that I wasn’t planning, and here comes my baby, just exiting my body.  And I think after that birth, I really did believe and understand the women giving birth in a coma because it was like honestly — I feel like my body did some pushing.  It didn’t feel like it.  It didn’t feel like what people explain is a birth.  It was just like my body helped him exit.

Kristin:  You were breathing your baby down, as we talk about, the birth breath in HypnoBirthing.  But of course, we see the movies where everything is traumatic and the woman is screaming.  That’s not what the reality of birth is, even with a precipitous birth, which can be a little bit stressful and overwhelming if you haven’t prepared the way you did and having that relaxation.  And even with your change of plans, in HypnoBirthing, of course, instead of a birth plan, you talk about birth preferences, so what you would like in an ideal situation, knowing that you may need to be flexible, which you obviously were, and you handled it very well.

Annette:  Yeah, sorry, I forget some of the terminology.  It’s been a couple of years.  But yeah, it was amazing.  It was, okay, we’re working with my midwife, so we don’t need to tell her what all we were going to do.  We were on the same page already, but I was really glad we actually did walk through all of that and come up with a list of what we really wanted from a birth.  And he was on my chest for two hours before they even touched him to do anything.  They still followed all of the things that I wanted, and I think that was a really helpful part of the class.  I was going into it thinking, “That’s not going to happen to me!  I’m not going to be in the hospital!”  But I was, and I’m really glad that somebody walked me through just saying what I want, if I’m in the hospital.  Just lay it all down.

Alyssa:  Having the knowledge and being educated ahead of time, I think, is a big part of releasing fear because you know what to expect “if,” instead of walking into this unknown.  And then you would have been panicking because you’re in a hospital; there’s six people that I don’t know at the end of the bed; what’s happening to me?  You were kind of like, oh, yeah, we talked about this.

Annette:  Yeah, it was very much that way.  I know what my body is going to do, so you all can hang out if you want.

Kristin:  And we have students that have planned Cesareans that want to eliminate some of that fear or students who then have medical issues and then need a Cesarean.  That can certainly be helpful.  I mean, the situation you just described is just knowing how to plan, how to relax, to use your breath, regardless of how you birth.

Annette:  Yeah, for sure.  That would have been such a huge — I mean, I can’t imagine if they had said, hey, you’re in a Cesarean.  I know it was all about — got to keep breathing.  That’s what I need to think about!  I’m just going to keep breathing, and this baby is coming.  I’m going to be holding this baby soon.  And if somebody, especially with a planned Cesarean — I know these women have so much fear around that.  It’s a surgery; that’s a huge thing.  And yeah, that class would be so helpful to process all of those fears and to know your body will be okay.  You will be okay.  Your baby will be okay.  You’re going to come through this.  I can’t imagine the difference in being in that situation, but with the confidence and the relaxation and all of that, rather than being scared and stressed out.  I imagine that would be much more helpful.

Kristin:  So, Annette, at what point in your pregnancy did you take HypnoBirthing?  It sounds like you had some time to practice.  You were saying you were listening to the relaxation tracks at night.

Annette:  I think that we were taking it in November, and then he was born in March.  We had a couple of months afterwards, which, like I said, was super helpful.  Honestly, I would have taken it at the very beginning, after knowing how much it helped me with pregnancy.

Kristin:  Yeah, HypnoBirthing is different than a lot of childbirth classes in that it helps to take it earlier in pregnancy so you have time to practice.  Of course, we have students who take it right up until their due date and sometimes even go early and miss a few classes.

Annette:  Yeah, we had that happen!  We lost a student.  It happens!

Kristin:  But certainly, like you said, to have a few months or even taking it very early in pregnancy, where other classes, you want it fresh on your mind, especially if it’s focused more on movement and positions rather than the whole mind-body-spirit connection.  That is one thing that I think is different about HypnoBirthing is it’s not just the physical movement and breath.  It’s a focus on your inner being and peace and serenity.

Alyssa:  Yeah, it sounds like it’s not just for birth, and I would venture to say that it probably helps — that you probably even think about it now in day to day.  Like, it almost helps you when a situation arises just in life?

Annette:  Oh, for sure, yeah.

Alyssa:  Just breathing and releasing fear in whatever way you’ve come to do that.

Annette:  Yeah.  And I do meditation now, and I didn’t think that was a cool thing before, but now I’m like, sure, yeah, that sounds great!  I want to get back into that space with my mind where I’m in control of things and thinking about what I want to be thinking about.  I’m not usually going through the ones the instructor did, but it’s opened me up to that whole world of what can my subconscious do?  And a completely unrelated thing; I’m now doing EMDR therapy, which is also very similar in using the relaxation and controlling what you’re thinking about and all of that.  And I think I would have thought that was ridiculous, if I hadn’t gone through HypnoBirthing.  So yeah, it’s amazing all the different ways in your life that it can continue touching you.

Alyssa:  Our brains are powerful.  They do a lot of good and bad for us on a day to day basis!

Annette:  Definitely, yeah!

Kristin:  So it sounds like your class had a mix of birth center, home birthers, and hospital birthers?

Annette:  Yes.  I don’t think anyone had a planned C-section, but there was a mix of all three of those, yes.

Kristin:  And then another question that we get pretty commonly is for people who are very religious, faith-based, would this class be something that they need to steer away from?  That’s a common – because of the hypnosis, maybe, but having experienced it yourself, can you address that for us?

Annette:  Yeah.  I mean, I grew up super religious.  I’m not as much anymore, but for sure, I remember that being something.  Oh, yeah, hypnosis; that’s something that you would want to stay away from.  And this class isn’t that at all.  It’s 100% you controlling what you’re thinking about and thinking about what you’re deciding to.  It’s just all you.  That’s all I can say, right?  You’re listening to someone talking, but you’re choosing everything that you’re doing, and all of the images that you’re seeing and everything is what you want to do.  So nobody is controlling your mind.  Nobody is coming in and saying, drop this pen, and then suddenly you’re dropping pens or whatever.  It’s all you, relaxing, choosing what you’re listening to, choosing what you’re going to respond to.

Alyssa:  It really sounds no different for a religious person than prayer to me, right?  Like, they could almost — it could feel like prayer to them, and they can call it whatever they want to call it: medication, prayer, hypnosis.

Annette:  Yeah, it’s relaxation, right?  That was the thing that I came away with, especially.  It’s relaxing yourself.  So if you want to go and learn how to relax yourself, then this is for you.

Kristin:  Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  Do you have any last words or tips for our listeners?

Annette:  If you’re thinking about HypnoBirthing, do it.  It’s amazing, truly; 100%, I tell every single pregnant person I meet: have you heard about this thing called HypnoBirthing?  And then I tell them my story.  It’s a weird one.  I didn’t use it the way you’re supposed to, but it still made a huge difference.  Even now, I’m like, I don’t know; did I earn the woman badge of giving birth?  I feel like I kind of didn’t, but here’s my kid…

Kristin:  You totally did!

Annette:  So apparently, I did!

Alyssa:  There’s the proof!

Annette:  but yeah, it’s amazing.  It really is, and I think it’s perfect for any birth situation, for anyone who’s going to give birth.  Do HypnoBirthing.  It really is amazing.

Kristin:  Thank you again, Annette!

 

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story Read More »

Pediatric Dentist

Podcast Episode #64: Pediatric Dentistry and Speech Therapy

What do tongue ties, lip ties, oral aversions, and picky eaters have in common?  Everything!  Listen as two experts talk about how pediatric dentistry and speech therapy are both helping parents discover ways to help their children.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, and I am here with Courtney and Katie today.  Courtney is with Building Blocks Therapy Services, and Dr. Katie is with Pediatric Dental Specialists of West Michigan.  Welcome, ladies!  I wanted to get you two together because I’ve talked specifically with Katie before about pediatric dental topics, and then with Courtney about speech therapy.  I’m thinking they both have to do with mouths, so I figured we would have a lot to talk about together.  So it sounds to me like in the dental office, Katie, you often are the one who sees these signs of speech delays before parents even understand that their child has a speech delay at one, two, three years old?

Katie:  Oh, absolutely.

Alyssa:  So they don’t see Courtney or call Courtney because they don’t even know there’s a problem yet.  So how does that work?  What does that look like?

Katie:  Well, on a day to day basis, I am seeing so many kids of all ages, and I have these interactions with kids, and I have a sense of the wide range of normal in development.  I can anticipate and see when maybe there might be something arising, but also a lot of any speech development issues I see really has a lot to do with their anatomy.  So that’s what I’m evaluating as well, whether it’s tonsils or some kids have tongue ties or other ties in their mouths that can cause some issues with speech, and other things I’m evaluating as well that I find that I really need help from a speech pathologist, actually.  And that’s where you come in, as well!

Courtney:  And I also have parents who are constantly asking me, regarding any speech delays, “Could this be a dentition problem?  Could this have anything to do with their oral cavity?”  So I think that a lot of times that we kind of cross paths in a lot of ways.

Alyssa:  So what about a kid who – is it called an oral aversion if they don’t really like certain types of foods or maybe textures of foods?  Let’s say I’m working with a sleep client, and this kid is two, won’t eat much, doesn’t like certain types of foods.  Is that a dental issue?  Is it a speech therapy issue?  Is it both?

Katie:  It can often be both issues.  I will see a lot of kids come in, and kids are always going to be picky, and that is totally normal.

Alyssa:  Especially at that age, right, to a degree?

Katie:  What’s interesting is research has shown that a kid needs to try a food 20 times before they will actually like it because you have to train your taste buds.  So with anything, your taste buds are actually learning how to like foods, and obviously there are some foods that come easier than others, like sugar.  That has other affects on our brain that we’re just going to like it immediately.  Something like broccoli – yes, some kids are not going to like that right away, and there’s absolutely a chemical reason why.  The problem arises when I am talking to a family and Mom is at a loss because he will only eat three foods.  And I see this often, that he will only eat bread, hot dogs, and crackers.  That’s not normal, I will say, and there’s a lot of reasons that could be going on.  It could be so many things.  It could be stressors in the home.  It could be that he has some anatomical reason.  Or it could be that he has a lot of tooth decay, and he has a lot of pain in his mouth, and he is very smart.  Kids are very resilient and very smart; that child knows exactly what he can eat that doesn’t cause him pain when he eats.  Quite often, though, there is something anatomically going on, whether it’s really large tonsils, especially in that two to six range.  Their tonsils can be quite large, and that can cause some swallowing issues, and I’m sure you can touch on that a little bit more, Courtney.  But also what I’ll notice quite often that goes missed a lot is if a child has a tongue tie.  A lot of people don’t even know what a tongue tie means, but basically, our tongues have a tissue attachment to the floor of our mouth.  And sometimes, that area of tissue is quite pronounced, a little bit too strong, and there’s too much attachment with the muscle fibers of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, and that can impact how well the tongue moves.  And if the tongue is really restricted and cannot move very well, then they cannot manipulate food very well, either, in order to actually –

Alyssa:  Yeah, you don’t realize how much you move your tongue around, right, to move food around?

Katie:  Absolutely.  The tongue is one of the strongest muscles in our body, and if you can’t use it properly, it’s going to be really hard for them to manipulate food around their mouth, chew the food, and thus swallow the food, as well.  So I don’t know if you want to touch more on your experience with that, as well, Courtney.

Courtney:  Yeah, so as we eat, our tongue has to have a significant range of motion to it, so especially if that tongue is tied in, we have to be able to actually initiate the swallow.  We have to be able to push our tongue up against the roof of our mouth to create the suction to be able to get all the food to actually go down into our esophagus.  But also, along with that, when you’re looking at different textures of food, you have to be able to manipulate it in your mouth.  So if it’s going into your cheeks; if it’s getting stuck around your teeth; you have to be able to do tongue sweeps or to be able to angle your tongue to be able to move all the food towards the center of your tongue.  So if there’s not that range of motion in there, then it’s going to be really hard for them to use different textures of food.  So as a speech therapist, a lot of times when a parent will say, “Oh, they’re really picky,” I’ll look at the pattern of textures and what is required for the mouth, the tongue, the cheeks, and everything to do to manipulate that and see if there’s a pattern with this.  Wow, they really don’t like those liquids because maybe they can’t control.  Maybe it’s coming out of their lips.  Or that bread, when you’re chewing the bread and crackers, that sticks together, a bolus, and it sticks together so they don’t have to manipulate that tongue as much.  So we start to look at all that and their structure.

Katie:  And with that restricted diet they have, it can trickle down and cause a lot of tooth decay because, obviously, those things that are much easier for them to eat and manipulate are going to be those carbohydrates that can easily cause cavities.  So a lot of times, there is a lot of that simultaneously going on where they are having trouble manipulating foods, and then I see a lot of dental decay, as well; a lot of cavities going on.  One aspect, as well, if they don’t have a lot of range of motion with their tongue, then they can’t self-cleanse their mouth either.  So now that I talk about this, you’re probably going to notice how often you’re wiping your teeth with your tongue, moving your tongue to the cheek –

Alyssa:  I never knew that was called self-cleansing!  So every time you wipe your tongue over your teeth –

Katie:  Yeah, exactly.  And it’s just something we don’t even think about.  It’s a natural reaction because it’s not normal to have pockets of food in your mouth and things like that.  That’s something I even see a lot with kids coming in.  I’ll see that they have food pocketing where there’s actually food stuck in their cheeks, in the vestibules of their cheeks.

Alyssa:  That’s what I just imagining and visualizing in my head, that if a kid had a tongue tie and isn’t able to move their tongue over to the side, like if I have something stuck down here, I can pop it out with my tongue.  So if they can’t get that out, it’s just going to sit there, which is going to smell and cause tooth decay and make it difficult to – I wouldn’t want to eat very much, either, if I knew it was going to get stuck down there.

Katie:  No, you’re going to know what works for you and want to just stick to that, yeah.

Alyssa:  So what other kinds of things do you see that might be speech-related, or is that the biggest one?

Katie:  That’s the biggest one.  A lot of it, too, is how you were talking about their orthodontic occlusion, so how teeth are biting together.  One thing that can definitely impact speech is how your jaws are growing, how your front teeth are overlapping or not in the front, as well.  A lot of kids who have had a pacifier longer, like past age three, have a finger-sucking or a thumb-sucking habit.  Even kids who have used a sippy cup for an extended period of time.  All of those things can cause what we call an open bite, meaning your front teeth don’t overlap, and they often have what’s called a large overjet, meaning your front teeth are not overlapping how they should.  From the front teeth to the bottom teeth, there’s a very wide gap between them.  So that, I know, can cause some speech issues as well because your tongue isn’t really able to be placed where it should be properly on those front teeth, right?

Courtney:  Yeah, so our speech sounds are all how we manipulate that airflow, and we manipulate that airflow with our tongue and with our cheeks.  And so where we place our tongue, a lot of times, we’re doing it just behind those front teeth or against our front teeth, and so that can – and then there’s more behind the scenes; there’s so many muscles in the tongue, but it can really – there’s different areas that then the air can sneak out, so then you don’t have those quality speech sounds.

Alyssa:  So do you teach children to move their tongue differently?  What do you do?

Courtney:  Well, there’s a kid that I have right now who tends to jut her lower jaw out when she does her SH sound.  A lot of kids have trouble moving their jaw separate from their tongue or dissociating all these different parts of the mouth.  And so we’re talking centimeters at a time, fine-tuning where that tongue is and where that jaw is.  Everybody speaks in their own way and produces their sounds in their own way, but what sounds the most acceptable to those who are listening?  So it’s being able to kind of manipulate exactly where that tongue is and all of that.

Katie:  And that’s something, too, where if you’re noticing you have patients with having those types of difficulties, definitely touching base with them and asking if they’ve been able to see a dentist or an orthodontist and just kind of gauging if they have any history with that, as well, because that’s something that we wouldn’t want to go missed, either, if that’s something that can help them.  We would want to do that, for sure.

Courtney:  Exactly.  Some kids have the palette expanders and things like that.

Katie:  Yeah, even how you were talking about how her lower jaw is moving forward like that.  That could be something to do with how her front teeth actually occlude.  It could have something to do even with her TMJ or something like that.  Even our tonsils, how big our tonsils are, affects our jaw growth, as well.  If our tonsils are really large, our jaw growth and the rest of our anatomy finds a way to compensate so they can breathe.  So that’s really interesting, as well, and there’s definitely physical signs we look for that can coincide with large tonsils, especially if it’s something that’s kind of gone missed for a longer period of time.  A lot of kids who I see for the first time coming in, even that seven to nine range, at that point, you can really see some changes in their jaw development, especially their upper jaw.  They’ll develop a really, really high palette because, again, it’s trying to open up their airway so that they can breathe better.  A telltale sign, obviously it’s kids with ADHD and all that as well.  Any time I hear that in a medical history, I beeline for looking at the tonsils because if kids are not getting the sleep they need, it comes out during the day because when you don’t get enough sleep, you are going to be more hyperactive.  That’s how our brains work.  So that’s how sometimes it can affect how they act during the day, unfortunately, and oftentimes I do see kids a little bit older and I see that going on, and they have tonsils that are almost touching in the back of their throats, and that’s very abnormal and not healthy for them.

Alyssa:  Is that a form of sleep apnea?

Katie:  Yeah, absolutely.  And sleep apnea is really interesting because there are so many things, so many symptoms.  A kid won’t necessarily have all the symptoms; they may only have one, and it could be their body actually compensating as it grows to make sure that it’s avoiding some of those symptoms, as well.  So, obviously, a kid who snores a lot; bedwetting is one.  Obviously, the hyperactivity during the day or just generally their sleep cycle is off and they’re waking up at night, things like that.  Those are all signs that we’re evaluating, and sometimes I’ll still have them see an ENT, even when the tonsils are not so pronounced, but just in case.  Every body is so different, and how your body reacts to whatever is going on is going to be totally unique for your body.  So less than 30% occlusion of your tonsils is pretty normal, but anything more than that could be causing an issue.

Alyssa:  I love that you think about sleep because I’m obsessed with sleep!  That’s my jam!

Katie:  I love that you are!  That’s such a huge thing for us, and going to see a pediatric dentist, we are looking at so many different things because all of that goes into how a child develops.  We have so much training on just child development in general, physically and emotionally, and all of that.  So we are evaluating all of those things to make sure nothing is going missed because things can, unfortunately.  So definitely pediatric dentists have more school that we go through to be able to learn those things, thankfully.  Not that general dentists don’t, as well, but you do have to seek out extra training as you graduate, and it just kind of depends on what opportunities you find and learn and all of that, as well.  Since I’ve graduated from residency, I’ve had to seek out meeting speech therapists and pathologists to learn more, and obviously training on lip and tongue ties and the procedure to help relieve that for kids.  So that’s something that we can work together on, as well, because I can use a laser to actually to a frenectomy, which means we can remove that extra tissue that’s causing the tongue tie, and that can give the child so much more mobility and relief.  But even when we do that procedure, kids will still need therapy afterwards.  The procedure is part of a spectrum of working together to make sure that child is able to function at their best.

Courtney:  I think that for children, especially, their bodies adapt amazingly, and they compensate so well.  And so many things can go hidden with a child because their bodies just automatically do these amazing things, and I think I do a very similar thing, where I really look at how are they functioning in their whole world, looking at the whole child.  Like with ADHD; you’re saying that this child is really acting out at school, for example.  Well, let’s look at these patterns of behavior and sleep or if it always seems to be around writing time that they have a little bit of difficulty with the endurance of those things.  It’s really looking at the whole picture and not just honing in on one narrow thing like the teeth or just communication.  It’s how everything is interacting together in their world, because gosh, kids adapt amazingly.

Katie:  I say this all the time: kids are so resilient!  They’re so fascinating, how they can grow and change to make the best of what they are given.  And so many situations where I’m always fascinated that they’ve been able to cope for this long in whatever situation it is, and that they’re doing really well, but I know they can do better.

Alyssa:  I have a tongue tie question, because in my world as a doula, it often relates to newborns.  Do you see a ten-year-old kid – or maybe that’s too old; maybe a five-year-old who still isn’t eating well?  Will they still have issues?  Can you take care of that?

Katie:  I actually had a 13-year-old patient who came to see me because she was having tooth pain, and she needed a deeper filling fixed and all of that.  She was a great girl, but just very generally anxious.  A typical 13-year-old, but a little further down the spectrum of having a little bit of social anxiety and things like that, as well.  And I noticed that she had a really severe tongue tie, and I just asked, since she was having the tooth decay, and a tongue tie can cause or impact the development of tooth decay.  So I just asked Mom; I said, “You know, I’m noticing she has a really tight connection between her tongue and the rest of her mouth.  Have you guys ever had any issues with eating, speech, anything like that at all?” I’m asking those questions because I don’t want to miss anything as a dentist, as well.  I’m not just looking at her tooth.  And Mom goes, “Oh, yeah, she used to be in speech therapy for a while.  They weren’t really making a lot of progress.”

Alyssa:  So the speech therapy wasn’t looking at the tongue tie?  Courtney is over here dying!

Katie:  So then I’m the crazy lady who comes in for this 13-year-old, and all of a sudden, she has a tongue tie.  And then we start talking a little bit more, and even she starts chiming in.  She was not saying a word until this moment, and she’s, like, “Yeah, it’s really hard for me to eat.”

Alyssa:  Thirteen years!

Katie:  And I was, like, oh, my gosh, you poor girl!  And I could just see that it was really starting to emotionally affect her.  You could tell!  They didn’t end up coming back to the office I was at during that time, but they were really relieved when they heard that there could be some other solution, as well.  And I talked to her and said that I really wanted her to get another referral for a speech therapist.  I wanted her to talk to them about the fact that the pediatric dentist noticed the tongue tie and that we could do a really simple procedure to give her some more mobility with her tongue, but that she would likely need some therapy afterwards, as well.  Mom called me back, and she had made an appointment with one of the Spectrum facilities, and then I moved offices, so I’m not sure what happened with it.  I’m sure she got the treatment.

Alyssa:  So without an actual revision done, you can help – let’s say somebody doesn’t want the frenectomy because it’s too scary or just that, I’m 13 and I don’t want to do it.  Can you actually help, or is it limited because there’s only so much you can do?

Courtney:  It would be limited because she probably has already figured out her range of motion and probably put it to the max.  So at that point structurally, there’s not much manipulation.  You know, as speech therapists, we can’t change structure.  And so we have to use the structure that we have, and I’m going to trust in all my ability that that girl probably already utilized what she had.

Katie:  That’s why sometimes you do need to have that physical change in order to be able to progress in that therapy, and she clearly had not progressed.  And I think that’s why they stopped going to therapy, because at that point, what are you supposed to do?  So that was just kind of an unfortunate case where something really could have been done way early on because she had clearly been having speech issues.  Honestly, at the time, her speech seemed great, and I was much more concerned about the fact that even she said herself that it was hard for her to eat.

Alyssa:  Well, I’m thinking about a 13-year-old going to a pizza party, and she’s probably dreading it because it’s really hard to eat and swallow.

Katie:  Exactly!  Especially at that age, your social life is really dramatically impacted by things like that.  That starts, really, as soon as kids start school, but especially when they start noticing differences between each other.  That’s huge as a 13-year-old to have gone that long and be struggling.  On a more happy note, I’ve had a nine-year-old patient recently, and he had been in speech therapy and wasn’t progressing.  I spoke with his speech pathologist, and she said, oh, yeah, just give it a try; do the laser frenectomy.  And I did, and he even said, “I felt better talking that same day.”

Courtney:  Wow, that’s so great to hear!

Katie:  So that was really cool.  I was, like, oh, my gosh.  That’s so awesome, and Mom was so ecstatic that they could finally progress a little bit more in their treatment.  Usually, when we’re doing a laser frenectomy, we remove some of that tissue, and the kids do great, honestly.  You’re a little bit sore for a couple of days, but generally, they can still function normally.  Sometimes they need a little bit of Ibuprofen or Tylenol for some older kids, but generally, it’s an easy recovery, which is awesome.  And every kid is different with their recovery.  Some kids, it’s harder; some kids just bounce back the same day.  But generally, kids do really, really well.

Alyssa:  When they need therapy afterwards, is that something you give?

Courtney:  It depends.  So speech therapy, we work on that musculature in the mouth, and so if need to work on some range of motion exercises with them, but also with that new freedom that they have with their tongue, suddenly those sounds might be coming out different, and they might not know how to manipulate things right away.  So providing a hierarchy and all that and working with them on being able to manipulate the airflow a little differently.

Alyssa:  Yeah, that’s a weird thought, too, being a nine-year-old who, you’ve been speaking for eight of these nine years, and suddenly, your tongue moves completely differently, and you’re saying sounds differently.  How weird that must sound and feel!

Courtney:  Yes!

Katie:  Well, it is cool, especially because I’m doing these frenectomies from basically birth until whenever they still need them, but it is really awesome to see when an older kid can actually explain to you how it did affect them in a positive way.  So that’s really cool.  Obviously for kids who are really, really little, I can still see it in a physical way, how much better they’re doing, whether it’s breastfeeding.

Courtney:  I was going to say with newborns and the latching, yeah.

Katie:  Even with doing lip tie releases as well, and just how much easier it is for parents to brush at home.  So that’s something with occupational therapy, as well.  Having oral aversions; if you have a really tight lip tie, then it’s really hard to brush that area because it actually does hurt because your lip is being pulled so tightly against your teeth that it’s really difficult to brush that area.  So that’s always something I’m looking for, as well, when I’m in a patient’s mouth moving their soft tissue around.  You can tell when a kid is like, oh, that didn’t feel good!  And I can see what the tissue is doing inside the mouth to tell, like, yeah, that’s a little too tight right there!  I can tell that uncomfortable!  So on top of having a parent trying to brush their teeth, obviously for a two-year-old, it’s already still really difficult to brush their teeth sometimes, but having that on top of it – generally, I say you are not hurting your child by brushing their teeth.  So if they’re crying, that’s okay, and we give them ways to work through it.  But that is something where, yes, that doesn’t feel good, so that’s hard as a parent, as well.  But it’s good that we can observe that and give the child some relief and give Mom and Dad a little bit of relief, as well.

Alyssa:  Well, I think it’s amazing to have these resources for parents where they know that people like you are working together to where you’re not just looking at a tooth; you’re not just looking at the sounds a kid makes.  It’s all connected and they need you both.

Katie:  We all need to work together, yeah.

Courtney:  Yes, absolutely!

Alyssa:  So each of you tell us where our clients can find you and our listeners can find you if they have questions or need a new pediatric dentist or want to have some speech therapy.

Katie:  Yeah, we are a new office at East Paris and Burton in the Bankston Center, so we will be open on March 11th, but we’re taking new patients right now.  You can email us at smile@pdsofwestmi.com.  You can also find us on our website.  Otherwise, you can give us a call at 616-608-8898, and we’re happy to help you.

Courtney:  And Building Blocks Therapy Services; I’m off of Alpine, right across from the weather ball; that’s a good landmark.  You can find me on my website or give me a call at 616-666-6396.

Alyssa:  Perfect!  Thank you, ladies, for joining us today!

Katie:  Thanks for having us!  So fun!

Alyssa:  Thanks for listening!

Image © Matt Madd

 

Podcast Episode #64: Pediatric Dentistry and Speech Therapy Read More »

Speech Therapy

Podcast Episode #63: What is a Speech Therapist?

We’ve all heard of a speech therapist but what do they actually do?  In this episode, Courtney Joesel of Building Blocks Therapy Services tells us how speech and language services can benefit a child and why, if you notice signs of speech delay, it’s important to have your child seen earlier rather than later.  She gives us some things to watch out for as well as some tips to help our children with language development.  You can listen to this complete episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner at Gold Coast.  Today, I am super excited to be talking to Courtney Joesel.  She is a speech and language pathologist at Building Blocks Therapy Services.  Hello!

Courtney:  Hello!

Alyssa:  So I loved talking to you the other day, and I want to learn more about what you do, but I think a lot of people probably don’t quite understand what a speech and language pathologist is.  I’ve heard of a speech therapist.  Is that different?

Courtney:  We are the same, but as history has progressed, we used to be people who would work on just the sounds, like in the early ‘70s, and it has really progressed to us being communication experts.  So that is not just the speech sounds that we hear with the R’s or the S’s.  We really address our overall gesture systems; how are we able to communicate our thoughts and ideas, our needs and our wants, and even the social communication, picking up on social cues and understanding all those different nuances and navigating the world around you.

Alyssa:  So when you say sounds in the ‘70s, it was literally like somebody who would have a lisp or — and that’s what they would seek out help for and that’s it?

Courtney:  Yeah.  I mean, there was more to it, but that was kind of the bulk of it, and we’ve really progressed our profession.  In the ‘70s, it was kind of like if the kid was missing their two front teeth, we can work on their S’s.  So we’ve really been able to hone in on our skills and show where we can really help benefit people in their everyday world.

Alyssa:  Do you see children and adults?

Courtney:  Speech therapists see children and adults, but I personally focus on pediatrics.  I focus on kids from around the twelve-month age all the way up to teens.

Alyssa:  So starting at twelve months or around a year?

Courtney:  Yeah, and that’s where you start to kind of see some of those disorders or patterns of communication starting to show that they might need a little bit of extra stimulus or some parent coaching on some ways to help.

Alyssa:  So up until a year — because a lot of people do the comparisons, right?  Like, oh, my four-month-old isn’t doing what my friend’s four-month-old is doing, or my nine-month-old isn’t saying words, but my friend’s nine-month-old is already saying four words.  Up until twelve months, then, is there really not a whole lot to worry about?

Courtney:  There are definitely some ways to watch and some signs to see how your child is progressing with their communication.  Starting at three months, you really start to see huge gains to be made.  Every kid, obviously, develops at their own rate, but the earlier that you do notice that there are some significant delays in various aspects, it takes less treatment for that to try to fix itself.

Alyssa:  So if a mom or dad at six months thinks they’re noticing major delays, would you see them or just talk to them and say wait until they’re twelve months?

Courtney:  I would talk to them and see what they’re noticing.  You know, around six months, you should start to be hearing them making different sounds, even taking turns with you with making those sounds.  It’s almost like you’re having a conversation with them, but they might just be blowing raspberries.  But that is something we’re looking for, and so if the kid isn’t attending to you or responding to certain things, that is an area of concern that we might want to go to the doctor and rule some things out, and we might just want to do an assessment just to see where they’re at to get a baseline and to see how they progress in the next four to six months.

Alyssa:  Okay.  So what’s significant about the twelve-month mark?  What can parents be looking for?

Courtney:  So twelve months, around that twelve to eighteen months, you should really see a huge boost in their communication, with their verbalizations or gestures.  Children that are using more gestures, we tend to see bigger gains in their communication along with those words.  You have to think about, when the child start walking and developing those motor patterns, we typically see their communication developing along that same plane, you know, that same line.  So if they’re walking and doing a lot more physical aspects, but you notice that, oh, they’re eighteen months and they don’t have a word, or they’re twelve months and they’re only going ta-ta-ta and not ba-di-da, all that, then that is an area that you might just want to talk to a speech therapist.  They’ll know the questions to ask to help you determine, like, hey, this might be something for us to look deeper into.

Alyssa:  So the saying “early walker, late talker” really doesn’t mean anything?

Courtney:  Well, there are late talkers.  Every child has their different sensory systems and how they learn, so some kids learn physically a little bit more and they’re able to navigate their world without using as much communication.  So they might be a little late talking, but always kind of look at those, you know, are they a late talker or is there a language delay overall?  And you start to see that around — you can really determine that around three years, but those children, if you wait until three years, and it really was a language delay versus just a late talker, then you missed out on a couple years.

Alyssa:  So how do you tell the difference?  How do you know?

Courtney:  So a lot of times, you look at their gestures, how they do communicate with you, the variety of sounds that they’re already using.  Are they using more behaviors to get what they want?  Just various aspects; we really have to look at the whole child in all these different situations, and a lot of times we can’t tell until three years old, but you don’t want to wait and see for a lot of those kids because then they’ve missed out on two years of specialized treatment.

Alyssa:  So a lot of it is you actually assessing and watching this child?

Courtney:  Yes.

Alyssa:  And you can see visual cues of communication, not just verbal cues?

Courtney:  Exactly.  You know, the communication system – we think of words and sounds, but there’s so much more to it and how the children pair all those different aspects together and can really help us see how they are able to get their needs and wants met.

Alyssa:  What would you tell parents who have a child around the twelve-month mark or older?  What do they need to look for?  How do they know?  Oftentimes, we say, oh, I need to stop this train of thought because I’m just comparing my child to others.  But deep down, you might really have this instinct that says, something’s not right here.  How do you they know that they need to call you?

Courtney:  Well, first, I think moms know best.  Moms know their own child, and I do believe a lot of times — not all doctors, but some doctors, do say wait and see; wait and see.  Or a parent says, you know, they’re not talking as much as I want, even around that 12-month.  And especially if it’s a boy, doctors will say, oh, let’s just wait.  Especially if it’s a boy; boys develop a little bit later.  But what you really want to look at is, how does that kid communicate?  Is it just he’s pretty silent and kind of waits for you to do things and isn’t kind of going out of his comfort zone?  We really want to see those kiddos trying to go a little bit out of their comfort zone and trying different sounds.  Practicing; you should be hearing a lot of different practicing of them, of adult language.  It’s not going to sound like our adult language, but we should be hearing some more jargon.  Those are things that you would like to see, even at the twelve or fourteen-month mark.  If you’re getting a lot of baby talk and they seem to be trying to say words, that would be an indication of, yeah, let’s give it a couple months.

Alyssa:  Because they’re trying and experimenting?

Courtney:  They’re trying and they’re experimenting.  Now, if you have a kid when you say something like, “More?  Do you want more banana?” and they’re just looking at you, around the twelve or fourteen-month mark, you should be getting a little bit more interaction from them.

Alyssa:  What about kids who have learned sign language?

Courtney:  I love sign language in kids.  I think the earlier you can start, the better.  I think it really helps them learn language because sign language is a form of communication.  That’s gestures.  That is communication, so they really start to learn that they can manipulate the world around them by using these gestures versus doing these overt behaviors of screaming and crying, and that they can control their environment.  And they go, hey, I get more Cheerios when I do this motion!  And then research has shown that kids who typically use sign language, it does support their language development.

Alyssa:  That’s one of the biggest pushbacks I get is, oh, I’ve heard that if they use sign language, they talk later.  And I haven’t noticed that personally.  My daughter learned sign langue.  We started a nine months, and at twelve months, it just happened.  All of a sudden, she knew all these words, and it was a life-saver.

Courtney:  Yeah, the way I try to compare it is, if I were to go to a country where I don’t know the language at all, you get anxiety.  You want to be able to tell somebody something!  I need to go to the bathroom!  And if you can’t communicate that with words, it gets really stressful, and you get tense and anxiety-ridden.  So just think about that with a nine or ten-month-old.  They have great thoughts and ideas, so they can get frustrated really easily knowing that I really want more of that banana, and she just took it away from me.  So if you give them a way to communicate that, and you start pairing it that when they sign more, you say, “Oh, you want more banana!”  that really starts stimulating their language.

Alyssa:  So is there anything else?

Courtney:  Well, just some tips as a child is developing, especially as they get to that twelve-month range, is that you want them to practice what you’re saying.  So if you talk in sentences that are about one word longer than what they’re already saying, it gives them more confidence to try to practice what you’re saying.  So if they’re starting to say “more,” you can say “more banana.”  And then by chance they might say “more banana” next time.  So that really helps to show them and give them the scaffolding or the steps to expand their language as they go on.

Alyssa: Keeping it within a realm that’s doable for them, and not saying, “Oh, you want more banana, please?”  That’s just way too long.

Courtney:  Exactly, and using more statements than questions.  Usually, you want to try to stick to a three to one ratio; three statements per one question.  That tends to stimulate their language a lot more.

Alyssa:  Excellent!  Well, if anyone has questions for you or things that they need to talk to you about their child, how do they reach you?

Courtney:  Well, I’m Building Blocks Therapy Services, and you can find me on my website and on Facebook.   You can also give me a phone call, 616-666-6396.

Alyssa:  And your office is located in Walker?

Courtney:  Yeah, it’s right off of Alpine across from the weather ball.

Alyssa:  That’s a good landmark!  Thanks for joining us today.

 

Podcast Episode #63: What is a Speech Therapist? Read More »

Newborn

Podcast Episode #62: Newborn Traumas

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

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

Alyssa:  Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  I had no idea!

Dr. Rachel:  It all started with the birth!

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Out of a thousand births.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Annie:  Yep!

Kristin:  Awesome.

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

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

Dr. Annie:  Thanks for having us!

 

Podcast Episode #62: Newborn Traumas Read More »

Postpartum Wellness

Podcast Episode #61: Postpartum Wellness

Dr. Erica of Root Functional Medicine gives moms some tips about staying healthy through pregnancy and into the postpartum period.  We also talk about her upcoming Postpartum Wellness class on March 7.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

This podcast episode is sponsored by LifeFuel, providing healthy meal delivery in West Michigan. We love partnering with LifeFuel! 

Alyssa:  Hello!  Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and today I’m talking to Dr. Erica Armstrong of Root Functional Medicine.  Hello, Dr. Erica!  Welcome.

Dr. Erica:  Hello, thank you for having me!

Alyssa:  My business partner, Kristin, has been talking to you, but I want to know a little bit about Root Functional Medicine, and then we will talk about an event that we’re going to have together here in our space.  So tell me a little bit about what you do.

Dr. Erica:  So I am a functional medicine doctor.  My background was in family medicine for several years before I went through functional medicine training, and Kelsey, our dietician, and I created a specialty practice in functional medicine, the first of its kind in West Michigan, and we partner up to help patients really get to the root cause of why they’re not feeling well.  That’s kind of the basis of functional medicine; we look at people in a holistic sense and try to solve problems at the root, and a lot of the time, we do need to make nutritional changes, and so it just made perfect sense to partner up with a dietician to do that.

Alyssa:  So explain to me what a functional medicine doctor does versus a regular medical doctor.  How would you, in very simple terms, explain what functional medicine is?

Dr. Erica:  Sure, I would say there’s not a simple explanation other than it’s a different model of healthcare entirely.  Functional medicine isn’t the symptom, one diagnosis, one treatment, the typical path that gets rushed through.  It really is stepping back, looking at the entire picture since birth and even before birth of a patient because they’re not just a snapshot in time.  We look at their genetics.  We look at their microbiome.  We look at their nutrition and lifestyle and really plot everything on something called a functional medicine matrix, and we try to balance the imbalances.  And then we look at lab testing that’s simply not available in traditional labs to see how the body is actually functioning, and with that information, we can be much more preventative and not only help people stay away from disease but actually help them feel well.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think of it as — you know how you go to a doctor within one medical system, and then you go to another one, and you’re answering the same questions all the time, but nobody seems to be talking together.  And functional medicine is like having all those specialties together talking to one another, so the heart specialist isn’t just looking at your heart.  The heart specialist should also be asking about nutrition and diet.  You know, it’s not just all these segmented pieces.

Dr. Erica:  Yeah, that’s absolutely right.  In traditional healthcare, we tend to silo things, but yes, if you have a heart issue, it doesn’t stop there.  There are other things that we need to look at, so it’s really putting the big picture together.

Alyssa:  So you and Kelsey — she does the dietician part of it?  We should have her on sometime, too, because I love talking about diet and sleep since I do sleep consults and food, especially for little ones.  Do you see children, as well?

Dr. Erica:  We do, yeah.  We can see all ages, and I do a lot of nutrition, too.  Just in functional medicine training, a vast majority of that is nutrition, but Kelsey does help a lot with specific diets and troubleshooting, and she has a lot of nutrition knowledge that she shares with patients, too.

Alyssa:  Let’s talk about this event and tell people what it is that you do to help pregnant women and what they can look forward to if they come to this event.

Dr. Erica:  Yeah, so even before pregnancy, really optimizing wellness and things like just trying to make sure they’re eating balanced, healthy meals is important, and then things to look out for in the postpartum period where we’re often sleep deprived and have higher cortisol levels and how to navigate and troubleshoot those areas, how to plan ahead for that.

Alyssa:  So this event we’re having is on March 7th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM and it’s going to be here in our office in the Kingsley Building.  Seating is limited because our office can only hold so many people.  It’s $35.00 per person, and we’re going to create a link and post it on Facebook and put it on our website.  Are we calling it How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the Postpartum Period?

Dr. Erica:  Yes!

Alyssa:  So we’re going to talk about good foods during pregnancy, what to watch out for, sleep deprivation and cortisol, like you just mentioned, tips for dealing with that, and then how to evaluate adrenals and thyroid, which I know is a common question for a lot of women, pregnant or not.

Dr. Erica:  Yes, we end up seeing a lot of thyroid disease coming after pregnancy, for a variety of reasons.  So how to test for that and assess it from a functional standpoint.

Alyssa:  And then we have — and you might need to help me with this; talk about some adaptogens in food?  What is that?

Dr. Erica:  So adaptogens just means that it helps your body adapt to situations, so certain things like mushrooms or ashwagandha, those are called adaptogens.  So if people are having a lot of high cortisol levels, actually eating that food helps because food can talk to your genes and tell your genes to turn on or off and produce more or less cortisol.  That’s a very scientific answer, sorry!

Alyssa:  No, I get it!  And then the last thing I have on here, “some supportive things to do such as basic ideas that can be forgotten during the postpartum period.”  What do you mean by that?

Dr. Erica:  So even just remembering to continue your prenatal vitamins.  Things can get so out of routine with a newborn baby that you forget to do simple things that can help you feel well.  We end up seeing a lot of nutritional deficiencies just after giving birth, especially vitamin D.  There’s a lot of vitamin D deficiency in general in West Michigan, but if you’re breastfeeding, you’re at more risk for that.  And then magnesium deficiency, which many of us are deficient in.  So just those two simple vitamins, we can test those levels, and people end up feeling a lot better when we replace those.

Alyssa:  So who would you say should come to this event?  Women who are pregnant, trying to conceive, postpartum, all of the above?

Dr. Erica:  I think all of the above, for sure, because we’re going to talk about a lot of general health tips, as well, as focusing on the postpartum period.

Alyssa:  Okay!  So again the event is called How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the Postpartum Period, but even if you’re pregnant, I always tell people to plan ahead.  So it’s good to learn this stuff so that you’re not in the  midst of all this chaos with a newborn at home, and going, oh, shoot.  If you know this stuff, you can plan ahead.  And again, that’s going to be on March 7th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM, so if you’re interested, you can go to our contact form and let us know you’re interested in the event.  I would still like to know a little bit more about your practice.  Where are you located?

Dr. Erica:  We’re located in downtown Grand Rapids, and we mainly see people in person, but we can also see people virtually throughout the state of Michigan via telemedicine, and some people will drive in for the first visit and then follow up virtually, as well.  We have different packages on our website.  You can either work with Kelsey in nutrition package or with me in functional medicine or with both of us in what we call the Get to the Root package in where we work together for at least three months and really help get to the root cause of feeling better.

Alyssa:  I love that you can do it virtually, especially for postpartum moms!

Dr. Erica:  Yes, it makes a lot of sense not to have to lug the baby in!

Alyssa:  Yeah, it’s the last thing you want to do!  You’re in your yoga pants; you don’t want to have to drive downtown and probably run in to somebody that you know with no makeup on and all that stuff.  It’s just a lot easier, especially if you have a newborn and toddlers at home to not have to leave.

Dr. Erica:  Yeah, and we can attach all the food plans and wellness plans right to the patient portal.

Alyssa:  That’s really convenient!  Well, if anyone is interested in getting ahold of you, what’s the easiest way?

Dr. Erica:  There’s a contact form right on our website.  And we’d be happy to answer your questions.  We’re also on Instagram and Facebook as Root Functional Medicine, and we post most of our updates there.

Alyssa:  And we’ll share the Facebook event, as well.  Again, it’s How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the Postpartum Period and it will be on March 7th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM here at the Gold Coast Doulas office.  Well, thank you, Dr. Erica!  Thanks for joining us!

Dr. Erica:  Thank you!

Alyssa:  And tell Kelsey we’ll have her on sometime, too.

Dr. Erica:  Sounds good!

 

Podcast Episode #61: Postpartum Wellness Read More »

Pregnancy and Depression

Podcast Episode #60: A Naturopath’s Perspective on Pregnancy and Depression

Doctor Janna Hibler, ND talks to Alyssa and Kristin about how a naturopathic doctor treats pregnant and postpartum women, body and mind.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and I am here with Kristin, my business partner today, and Janna Hibler.  She’s a naturopathic doctor and clinical nutritionist.  Hello, Janna!

Janna:  Hi, how’s it going, guys?

Alyssa:  So Kristin and I met you at a little gathering of the minds at Grand Rapids Natural Health Recently.  We kind of hit it off, and then you and I got coffee, and we hit it off even further.  We got to chatting forever, so we were like, let’s just pause this and record our conversation!  And today, first, I want to know a little bit more about what you do, but when the two of us were talking, we spoke quite a bit about postpartum depression, and I want to talk about what happens leading up to that, even before you get pregnant, but then during pregnancy, too.  What does that look like?  What do depression and anxiety look like?  How do we nip that in the bud?

Janna:  Yeah, definitely!  So it’s really important for all of us mamas and future mamas to know that how we are before we get pregnant and give birth is a good indicator of how our health might look like after we give birth.  Things you mentioned such as anxiety or depression tend to get more severe after we give birth just because of the extreme stress and sleep deprivation that we are under, having a newborn.  I like to emphasize to my patients that this is nothing to feel bad about.  It’s just when you don’t sleep, you don’t release the same neurotransmitters and have the same brain chemistry with certain levels of uppers and feel-good hormones.  So it’s kind of…

Alyssa:  I’m obviously a big proponent of sleep for babies and parents.  So what would you tell a parent who says I’m not even pregnant yet; I’m thinking about getting pregnant.  How does a person even know if they have depression or anxiety?  And what do you do about it?  Let’s say that I’m kind of a depressed person or I get anxious about things at work or with my friends or my family.  What do you recommend?  And then let’s say I came to see you as a naturopathic doctor.

Janna:  So again, I like to really emphasize that you are normal and this is a normal part of being a female.  If we’re talking evolutionarily speaking, we were made to be out in nature, and so when we’re put in the city, even if we’re out half an hour from Grand Rapids downtown, there’s a lot of lights.  There’s a lot of noises.  There’s a lot of things going on that cause an overresponse, and that can lead to anxiety and depression.  So some symptoms might be feeling nervous in certain situations or some OCD tendencies, or a lower mood display and laughing less or getting less excited about certain things in life.  These can be very mild, but if you look at them over the course of the day, if you have a lot of little things, they do add up.  So when you walk into a naturopathic doctor’s office, something I really love and take to heart is that we have our medical concentration, but we also have a lot of education with psychology and knowing how the brain works.  So I would ask you a bunch of questions; the normal medical questions you get, but in addition, we’re going to ask about your sleep cycles, your exercise, your diet regimen.  All these play a part in our mental health, and my end goal is for everybody to feel their best all the time.  In order to find out how people are feeling, I like to run a series of either urinary or blood tests.  This can give us an indication of brain chemistry, hormone levels, cortisol, in addition to the normal things like checking sugar and red blood cells.  I really like to hone in on these specialty tests because by checking our brain chemistry, I can find exactly what neurotransmitters might be high or low, and we can treat appropriately.

Alyssa:  So when you talk about neurotransmitters, what does that mean?  What are you looking at and what does that mean to you?

Janna:  So our neurotransmitters; there’s the common ones we’ve all heard of like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, even histamine.  There is a whole slew of uppers and downers, and basically, we take the brain chemistry analysis tests so we can see if some of them are off.  Some people that have allergies have high histamine levels.  That’s an upper, so when we have allergies, those people actually tend to have anxiety, as well.  And so we can actually nip the anxiety in the bud by treating the allergies and reducing histamine levels.  So it’s really a cool science.

Alyssa:  And the cortisol and serotonin and melatonin, all those things you can actually check with blood and urine?

Janna:  Exactly, yeah.

Kristin:  And a lot of women have issues with their thyroid; is that part of the testing, that you can check thyroid levels?

Janna:  Absolutely.  I like to refer to it as our hormone triangle where we have our thyroid as the king, our sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and then we have our cortisol.  All three of those categories play a huge role in our hormone development and picture that we have, so we do a lot of intensive testing to find out where those levels are at.

Alyssa:  And what would you do if I came in and my cortisol levels were sky-high and you noticed something with my thyroid?  What would you tell me to do?

Janna:  So depending on your lab results, the thyroid could be treated in two ways.  One, sometimes we do give conventional medications, and then another way to treat, depending on your levels, is with herbs.  We can give a series of botanical herbs to actually bring your levels back to normal, as well as certain nutrients.  There’s a number of co-factors that actually feed our thyroid hormone to turn from its inactive to active form, and without them, we will not function.  So that’s things like vitamin D and iron and vitamin C; very common nutrients that we take for granted, but they play a vital role in our thyroid health.

Alyssa:  So how long do you test that out before you put them on a drug?

Janna:  Typically, I like to give a patient three to six months to see if we can fix it with nutrients and herbs.  Again, it comes back to what the patient wants.  If a patient wants results this month, then we might take a more aggressive treatment plan.  But if they’re willing to do it completely naturally, then three to six months.

Alyssa:  So let’s say I get it under control; I’m pregnant, and I still notice now that I still have some anxiety or depression.  What do you do during pregnancy?

Janna:  I really like to encourage diet and exercise and sleep.  Those are our biggest best friends to really help out.  Different lifestyle factors can have a huge effect on our mood and behavior.  So let’s start with maybe some foods.  We could eat a diet rich in dopamine, so we could do things like chocolate.  I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate?  We all love it, but do we know it’s high in magnesium and it’s high in zinc?  Those are vital co-factors to run our brain chemistry.  We can also have blueberries or nuts and seeds, which are high in vitamin B6 and 9 and all these B vitamins to help also with our mood.  We could do some grass-fed or fermented foods, which help with our gastrointestinal health, which again, I’m sure you guys have all heard of the gut being the second brain.  And then sulfur; sulfur-rich foods like onions and garlic that actually help with detox, so if we are having some things get backed up, we can help get them out.  So we really try to approach it from a multifactorial view hitting all points.  How’s our diet?  How’s our exercise?  How’s our sleep?  How’s our stress?  And a lot of what I get into with patients, too, is how is your relationship at home?  Do you feel supported?  Do you feel loved?  Do you feel heard by your partner?  By your business partners, your coworkers?  These are all part of our needs that play a role in our mental health when we’re pregnant and when we’re not pregnant.

Alyssa:  I was going to say those are things that should be carried over throughout, right?

Janna:  Yeah, yeah!

Alyssa:  Meanwhile, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Janna:  Totally, and pregnancy just kind of is that opportunity where we find our weaknesses in our body, and it’s actually a great opportunity to increase our health for the rest of our life and find out things we wouldn’t know about it unless we were pregnant.

Alyssa:  Oftentimes, I feel like that is the point in a woman’s brain and body where we finally start to understand and care about what’s happening to our body, and because we’re growing another human, then we’re like, oh, I better start taking care of myself so that I can take care of this baby.

Janna: Yeah, and I think that has a lot to do with what happens after we give birth and why a lot of moms struggle.  I mean, I want to say that loud on this podcast right now that mom life is hard.  It is a struggle, and I know we all try to put on a face that we’re doing well and everything’s perfect at home, but mom life is hard, and that’s maybe another podcast sometime, but that’s a conversation I’d love to get started because it is hard, and to that extent, why we have a hard time after birth is a lot of the time – and I’m sure you guys see this all the time, being in the house with moms – that the moms forget about themselves.  They put all of their energy, all of their love, into their baby, and I was guilty of it, too.  I mean, I have a two-year-old, and I definitely did it.  I’m still guilty of it some days because we love that human so, so much.  But I think it’s really important for our mental health and as mothers to put the energy back into ourselves and remember that we really can’t pour from an empty cup, and we have to be healthy and strong ourselves in order to make strong and healthy babies.

Alyssa:  So what do you recommend to a mom who’s suffering from depression?  You know, maybe they had a beautiful pregnancy, easy labor and delivery, and then they’re like, oh, my God; this is way harder than I thought, and then sink into a depression that they’ve never experienced before.  How do you get them out that?

Janna:  And so many moms do!  There are so, so many out there that come in, and they’re like, not even my husband knows how sad I am; not even my best friend knows how sad I am, and that’s where I really encourage everyone to just start reaching out.  I don’t want you to be ashamed; I don’t want you to feel guilty, because it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom.  You’re an excellent mom because you care so, so much, and asking for that help and taking that first step, making people aware that this is something I do need help with, and receiving that love.  From a medical standpoint, too, we’ll go in and I’ll help adjust hormones and your brain chemistry with either herbs or conventional treatments or nutrient levels to help your body, but I think so much of it also comes from a mental and emotional spot of feeling supported and loved by your people around you.

Alyssa:  So is naturopathic medicine, in general, more of a functional approach versus the medical approach or kind of a combination?

Janna:  Exactly, yeah, and functional medicine is so great.  That is the bridge between conventional medicine and natural medicine because we all agree on it, you know.  We see a lab level, and it’s important to attend to it when it’s on its lower level.  Traditionally-minded thinking, we only would treat something like vitamin D if it was set low because that’s the level that can cause rickets and true mobility issues, but what about everybody that has low-normal, that they’re in that functional, funky range?  That’s at a stage that can cause depression, that you can get autoimmune diseases.  So as a naturopathic doctor, I really work on treating it then and now so we can prevent getting those diseases because they may not pop up in five or even ten years, but they will happen if they’re not treated.

Kristin:  Even in pregnancy, there’s evidence that preeclampsia with the lack of vitamin D, that can be a factor in developing preeclampsia.

Janna:  Exactly, and that’s how it can be that simple sometimes where moms come in and, hey, they just want to run a nutrient panel just to find out what are their baseline nutrients, and then that way when breastfeeding comes into play, especially for extended breastfeeding – I’ve been breastfeeding for two and a half years, so that’s something I’ve been keeping a constant eye on, what are my nutrient levels, because we don’t want to cause other problems from just being depleted.  So yeah, that’s a great point.

Alyssa:  Depleted is a good word to describe mothers postpartum, I think.  Most of us at some point just feel depleted, whether it’s mentally, physically, whether it’s just breastfeeding.  That alone can make you feel depleted; this baby is literally sucking the life out of me!

Janna:  Because you’re giving everything!

Kristin:  I tandem nursed, so I really felt depleted when I was nursing two!

Alyssa:  It’s like this weird tug of war between “I love doing this” and “I hate doing this so much.”  I remember getting so over it when I was done, and then a month later I missed it.  I was like, oh, my God; I’m not breastfeeding anymore!  But I was so ready to throw those pump accessories in the trash and celebrate, but it’s just a weird…

Janna:  It is!  And every mom is different, so we like to celebrate moms at each level, whether they want to breastfeed for three months or six months or a year.  We all have our breaking point, and we want to prevent us from getting to that point.  Mama matters, too!

Kristin:  For sure!

Alyssa:  Well, thank you so much for joining us, and if people want to find you to come visit you or just ask you questions or follow you on Instagram, where do they find you?

Janna:  Absolutely!  So I’m currently accepting patients at Grand Rapids Natural Health, and I’m also on social media as holisticmommyandmedoc, and you can reach out there anytime.  My name is Janna Hibler on Facebook, and feel free to message me anytime.  I like to get to know my mamas.  Since I just moved from Vermont, I’m looking to build up my network of mamas because we are a tribe and we all need to stick with each other, so whether it’s personally or professionally, I do want to link up with you!

Alyssa:  Thank you so much!

Kristin:  Thanks, Janna!  We appreciate it!

 

Podcast Episode #60: A Naturopath’s Perspective on Pregnancy and Depression Read More »