Transcript: Postpartum Doulas – Easing the Strain After Childbirth
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Postpartum Doulas – Easing the Strain After Childbirth and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Not surprisingly, many of the moms I speak with are often nervous and frightened about the next stage of their lives after having their baby. After all, there’s lots for them to consider including caring for their newborn, recovering from birth, particularly where there’s been any trauma and adapting to caring for their little one. And to add to the stress, their relationship is often put to the test as more and more time is demanded of them.
A postpartum doula provides crucial essential emotional, physical and mental support to new moms, easing the stress in their lives. Kristin Revere is the co-owner of a doula agency located in Michigan in the US and provides birth support and classes for new moms, including a new online course and they have students located all over the world. You’ll hear from Kristin about their amazing community and the support they can provide to mums like you.
Helen Thompson: Hi Kristin, it’s lovely to meet you and have you on First Time Mum’s Chat. I’ll first of all, get you to tell me a little bit about what you do and what you’re passionate about, and then we’ll take it from there.
Kristin Revere: Wonderful. Thanks for having me on Helen. So I am co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas and we are actually in the United States. We often get calls and emails from people in New Zealand and Australia and other Gold Coasts but we are in Grand Rapids, Michigan and I have been a doula for eight years. Our doula agency is six years old and we offer birth support and then a variety of classes. We have an online course called Becoming a Mother, and then we have two nurse IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) on our team that offer lactation support and some other certified lactation consultants on our team as well. And then we offer a virtual sleep consulting in addition to the other services.
So we work with families from conception through, you know, three to four years with the sleep consulting.
Helen Thompson: So as a doula, you said you had an online course. That sounds like a really intriguing course, the one about helping moms. That’s a good one because babies don’t come with instruction books, so having a course that can help moms with that kind of advice, sounds like a good idea.
Kristin Revere: Yeah and we were intentional about creating a community. So the course was launched in March during COVID and our clients were feeling isolated and needed resources and support, so our course is not a class. We essentially talk about a lot of issues that come up, whether it’s baby number four or baby number one. So every pregnancy, every birth is different. Every baby’s temperament and so on is different. So we cover everything from planning, for your ideal birth, to all of the expert professionals like yourself with infant massage to really set up your dream teams. So who do you want in your personal support network and who do you want in your professional network?
So really digging into what resources are out there, because if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any. So we have expert videos from everything from pediatric dentists to pelvic floor therapists, to chiropractors. So our students from all over the world that are in the course can really figure out what’s important to them, what they want to budget for, what insurance might cover, if they have health savings or flex spending, and really coming up with a budget like you would for other major life occasions, like planning a wedding or building a house. So, yeah.
So the first three modules are all about prepping for birth and budgeting. And then the final three modules are all about baby care. So getting into newborn basics and a lot of postpartum wellness. So the care and support for after baby’s born, what resources you might need, what classes would be a good fit and then get into different feeding options in module five. And then module six is all about sleep, not only for baby, but also for the entire family.
Helen Thompson: The baby basic one sounds good because I think when moms first come out of hospital, they’re very happy to have their little baby and they think, wow, this is a lovely little baby, but then the baby cries and they’ve done all the things they’ve got to do, like fed it, changed its nappy, done all that, but it’s still crying and it must be a bit daunting for any mum, but particularly a first time, mom. If you’re a first time mum, who hasn’t had a baby before you’ll be thinking, oh God, help what do I do?
Kristin Revere: Right, there’s so many unknowns. Yeah, so we are really thrilled to have launched that and we’re changing the format a bit and we’ll have to have you on to talk in our expert modules to talk about infant massage and colic and so on. The students have lifetime access to the becoming a mother course. So if they have other babies they can come and go in the private group and women who have had their babies are able to give advice. So say someone has a colicky baby, then not only do you have the expert of myself and my business partner, Alyssa, who is also a postpartum doula. She happens to be a sleep consultant. So they have different experts within the course as mothers, themselves to be able to ask questions too.
So if someone has a colicky baby or baby who won’t sleep, they can ask for advice beyond watching the videos and the worksheets and the expert segments. So yeah, that community is so necessary, especially during the stress of COVID.
Helen Thompson: Oh, definitely it’s necessary for any first time mum, because colic, constipation or whatever, it’s really tough because babies cry and if they’re crying constantly, you need that support and having that community that you can go to and say, look, you know, how do I do this?
Kristin Revere: Yeah, and we address a lot of issues of, again, communicating your needs to your family and your friends of how you want to be supported after you deliver. Who you want to be in your birth space, if there aren’t restrictions. Who you want to come to your home after baby’s born and with COVID again, other conversations need to be had about comfort level. And so we get into that and we get into a lot of self care discussions and then just connecting, not only to baby, but introducing a newborn to other children in the family.
Helen Thompson: So from a doulas point of view, what are some tips that you’d give to a mum who’s just brought home a newborn baby, and they’ve got a two year old as well. What tips would you give to a mum to introduce the newborn baby to their sibling?
Kristin Revere: Great question, Helen. So we often say to have a special basket for a toddler. So they get books and toys that don’t normally come out, that they can play with when the mother is say feeding a newborn and they’re missing that connection.
And then taking individual time out. Say to put the two year old to bed and have someone else, a partner or a family member or a doula then spend time with a newborn. So again, that connection, cause there can sometimes be a bit of jealousy with a new sibling being introduced and really, especially if the two year old was an only child and got a hundred percent of attention from the parents.
Helen Thompson: What about, this is from my childcare perspective. I’m putting in a penny here and you can give me an idea of what you think. With the two year olds, helping them to change a nappy and say, right, I’m going to give little Johnny a nappy change, would you like to get the nappy and get the wipes and you can help me. Encourage them to do this sort of little activities and when they’re having a bath, obviously you supervise, encourage them to support the baby that way.
Do you feel that’s a good opportunity as well?
Kristin Revere: Oh, a hundred percent to be a helper and even during pregnancy to get the child excited about their role and helping with the baby and yeah, just any way to connect. So they’re not feeling like they’re being neglected or replaced by the new baby, or if there are multiple babies, twins and triplets, I mean that can get very overwhelming.
Helen Thompson: Yeah. I read a book and it’s called ‘There’s a House Inside My Mummy’. It was a book that somebody had written and it was explaining to a child, I have to look it up again because it was a really good book. The dad had written it with the child. He was explaining to the child all about what’s going on in mummy’s tummy and how the baby’s growing and mummy’s tummy is the baby’s house. It was a lovely book. I remember reading it when I was working in a childcare center. I thought, oh, this is a really good explanation of how to introduce a sibling to what’s going on because it’s not only giving them the communication, but it’s explaining to them as well, what’s happening. And you can say that you were once inside mummy’s tummy and would you like to listen to your sibling’s heartbeat and that kind of thing. It was very interesting.
Kristin Revere: I love it and then touch is so important with connection as you know, with the massage background. And so I talk a lot about, getting other family members and especially the partner husband engaged in caring for the baby and that skin to skin time can be so beneficial or, you know, I took my daughter with my husband to an infant massage class.
And they talked so much about, just the importance of touch and the consent before each touch, even with the newborn and so that connection was really helpful for my husband because women feel so oftentimes not always connected to the baby during pregnancy. And then it’s harder to get the partner to feel that same connection.
So it was skin to skin and infant massage and helping you know, with a lot of the newborn care and even helping with breastfeeding, can be a way to get an older child or a partner, like you said, grabbing you know, a wipe or something, an extra burp cloth, whatever it might be.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think dads sometimes feel left out when baby’s born, because you know if they’re breastfeeding, moms always there, moms getting up to feed them at night and I think it’s interesting, you brought that up about baby massage. I think it’s good for dads to get involved and it’s not only through baby massage that they can get involved. I mean, that’s one advantage of baby massage, but also, from what you’re saying, it’s great that dads can get involved because it’s so important for dads to connect to babies at that young age.
Sometimes they don’t do that. They’re just sort of pushed aside and mom might be feeling neglected, mum might be feeling depressed or whatever, but then so might dad. A hundred percent. It changes both dynamics. It changes the relationship you both had before the baby was born, whether that’s sexual or whatever else, but it does change your dynamics because you’re not giving your full attention to each other and sometimes even dad might feel a bit jealous too. You mentioned that, sibling might be jealous, but then so might dad. Moms got all the responsibility here, what am I going to do? I think I might just go out fishing or whatever. But encouraging dads to get involved, I think is great because I think that’s so important cause I think we forget about dads and dad needs to be loved and supported just as much as baby and mum.
Kristin Revere: Exactly and they want to feel appreciated. And so we talk a lot again about connecting and during pregnancy, especially for first time moms, having the date nights and time to connect and then talk about how the relationship will change as first-time parents. I mean there’s so many, it’s all new territory and so carving out time, even at home, we talk about having, some carry out dinner and just making during that time, that baby’s sleeping very special and keep the romance alive and to connect and to talk the way first-time parents were able to before kids, to maintain that because sometimes marriages can break down after the birth of a child. And so thinking about how to connect.
Helen Thompson: And I think that’s good how the doulas come in and give that support because I think people don’t get that support and having that support, I think is very valuable and the date nights are great.
I actually did a podcast titled ‘Tips to Rekindle Your Relationship and Heal an Unhappy Marriage After Baby’, with marriage, coach Tiffany Tuttle. Her marriage was nearly broken down because of what you’ve just said and she thought, no, I don’t want this to happen. What am I going to do? And so she worked on ways to have date nights which didn’t necessarily mean going out and dressing up and going out to dinner. It was date nights at home. What can I do at home? They had a special time and thought, right, let’s do this. I’ll put in the show notes. Cause it was very interesting and that’s sort of what you’re saying.
So have you have you got any other tips that you’d like to share?
Kristin Revere: Yeah. So for first-time moms during pregnancy, again, I like to think about really being intentional and connecting to baby or babies in the womb. And so starting the day and everyone is different in their philosophies, but with meditation or prayer, maybe a cup of tea and just thinking, positive thoughts and having that positive energy to start the day and talking to baby in the womb, with your background, just music, talking to baby being connected and intentional.
And so I did that with both of my pregnancies and felt like my babies were on the same team with me. And I visualized how I wanted my labor to be. Similar to the way that an athlete visualizes. I used to be a runner and so visualizing before a race, how that race would be and my performance. And so I use some of those same hypnobirthing techniques with my own children.
Helen Thompson: Yeah. I like the idea of the music, because I think there’s something with music that letting your baby listen to music whilst you’re pregnant, when they’re born, they may be more interested in relaxing with music. That’s what I’ve heard.
Kristin Revere: Yeah. And then if mom is anxious and baby can be sensing that. And so again, taking deep breaths, connecting, doing whatever it takes to center yourself and start your day off, and then thinking about how you want to end your day in that same way of, positive, having some affirmations for your birth and having your partner connect to baby. And when we sing baby a song or read a story or something. So finding ways to keep the partner or husband connected and that’s often easier at the end of the day, than the start of the day. People wake at different times, need to get off to work and so on.
Helen Thompson: I love that idea of connecting when the babies in the tummy still, when you’re still pregnant, because I think that you can still touch your baby while they’re in your tummy, because you can massage your tummy and talk to your baby when you feel the first kick that. Where are you kicking me? What are you up to today? Where are you and what position are you in and just have that nice little chat to them. And as you say relaxing, and if you’re feeling stressed, you relax because babies pick up a lot more than we give them credit for. We think that babies don’t understand, but babies actually understand a lot more than we give them credit for.
As you said, they pick up on that stress and that’s all to do with the baby massage, colic stuff. That’s why you ask permission, because if the baby’s stressed or if the baby’s upset, you need to relax and if you’re relaxed, then you can ask them permission and they may then be relaxed. It’s a two way thing.
Kristin Revere: Yeah. I thought it was a beautiful practice. Even before applying the oil and asking for permission, every time you touch it’s a wonderful practice.
Helen Thompson: Yeah. Cause it’s respect. You’re respecting each other, you respect your partner and your partner respects you and vice versa. So why not teach your baby to understand respect as well? So where can people get in touch with you? I know you said you live in the Gold Coast, which we thought the gold coast Australia and you mentioned there’s a lot of Gold Coasts all around the world, but if people want to find out more about this course that you’ve mentioned how do they get in touch with you?
So our website is GoldCoastDoulas.com and for those of you who don’t know how to spell doulas, it’s doulas. So GoldCoastDoulas.com. We do have a podcast called ‘Ask the Doulas’ and we’re on pretty much every podcast player. So SoundCloud and iTunes and Apple Podcasts and so on and then our online course is ‘Becoming a Mother’ and the website for that is TheBecomingCourse.com and backslash join to directly join the course, but we have a landing page.
And you can also find information on our course on the Gold Coast Doulas website.
Thank you. I’ve actually listened to your podcasts and I highly recommend moms to listen to your podcast because I think they’re very good. They’re very informative and very helpful. It’s got a lot of good tips in there.
Kristin Revere: Thank you so much. I’m excited to have you on so our listeners can learn from you.
Helen Thompson: Well, thank you, my listeners have certainly learnt from you. So thank you very, very much for being on today.
Kristin Revere: Thanks for having me, appreciate it so much.