Ep 115: Preparing for Life with a New Baby with Postpartum Doula Valerie Trumbower

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You are in for a treat today with my conversation with Valerie Trumbower. Valarie is a DONA Certified Postpartum Doula and a Certified Lactation Counselor. Her online courses Expecting 101™ and Expecting 101...You’re Adopting™ have helped hundreds of families prepare for life with their newborns. Valerie’s love for her work really shines through  in our conversation.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What a postpartum doula is
  • What it’s like to work with a one
  • When to start the process of finding a doula
  • What to look for
  • How much does a it cost
  • What Valerie says is important to know about life with a newborn

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Ep 115: Preparing for Life with a New Baby with Postpartum Doula Valerie Trumbower

Nicole: On today's episode, I am super excited to have a postpartum doula.

Nicole: Welcome to the Al About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy. And first quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 115. Thank you for being here with me today. You are in for a treat today with my conversation with Valerie Trumbower. Valerie is a DONA certified postpartum doula and a certified lactation counselor, and she helps people prepare for life with a newborn. She is the mother of three, including a set of twins, her online courses Expecting 101 and Expecting 101 You're Adopting have helped hundreds of families prepare for life with their newborns. You can also get tons of great free information that she provides on her Instagram account @newparentsacademy, she has over 48,000 followers there are tons of great information there as well. Valerie's love for her work really shines through in our conversation. We chat about what is a postpartum doula, what it's like to work with a postpartum doula, what you should look for in a postpartum doula, three things you need to know about life with a newborn.

Nicole: These three things are golden. You have to hear them. We chat a bit about her New Parents Academy and more tons and tons of useful information. In this episode, you are really going to find it helpful. And I'm also super excited to share that for those of you who are part of the Birth Preparation Course, Valerie will be doing a live Q and A with me, for course members only, next week. This is a new feature I'm adding to the Birth Preparation Course where we will do special Q and A sessions with podcast guests and others. So you, as a course member, have an opportunity to interact with guests, ask questions and go deeper into topics beyond what we can do here on the podcast. So if you didn't already have enough reasons to join the Birth Preparation Course here is another one. You can learn all the rest of the details and great stuff within the Birth Preparation Course and join us at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. All right, let's get into our conversation with Valerie Trumbower.

Nicole: Thanks so much, Valerie, for agreeing to come on the podcast. I am super excited to have you here to talk about your work as a postpartum doula, and um a lactation counselor.

Valerie: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here today also.

Nicole: So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself, your work and your family, if you'd like.

Valerie: I would love to. So as you said, my name is Valerie Trumbower. Um, I'm married to my husband, Doug, who is a third grade teacher. So yes, he's a third grade teacher. So he's clearly a very patient man. Um, we live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, so we live about 45 minutes North of Philadelphia. Uh, we have three kids including a set of identical twins. So our life is like just chaotic enough. I like a little chaos. Um, professionally I am a postpartum doula and a certified lactation counselor. So I work about, within about an hour of where I live here as a postpartum doula. And I'm also the creator of New Parents Academy. So what I do inside of New Parents Academy is really to help people to prepare for and navigate life with a new baby. Um, I always say that my goal is to help people feel like they know what they're doing as they get ready for their baby and once their baby arrives. And so I have a lot of resources online. I'm really active on Instagram and YouTube, and I have two online courses, one for people who are pregnant and one for people who are preparing to adopt a newborn.

Nicole: Love it, love it. So you still practice as a doula. Okay. So you're similar to me in the respect that we both still do our like daytime jobs, so to speak or well learn as nighttime in your case, Cause I believe that I saw you work alot at night.

Nicole: Yes, and then translate that information to help people in a wider way.

Valerie: For sure. And it definitely, I mean, given this pandemic time working in people's homes has changed and as my online business has grown, I haven't, I think, you know, kind of a balance of both of those things, but there was certainly many, many times where I'm working with two different families. So maybe Monday and Wednesday, I'm overnights with one family and Tuesday, Thursday with another, during COVID, that's not happening. And then as my online business has grown, I, you know, it's, but it is, it's great to still have that, that time in people's homes. And for people who follow me on Instagram, they know the nights I work. Cause they're like now she's giving a baby a bath. So a lot happens in the middle of the night, on Instagram, on the nights I work.

Nicole: So why don't you tell us a bit about what training you went through to become a postpartum doula and also a certified lactation counselor? I like to give people a little bit of background for how you got to be where you are.

Valerie: Yes, for sure. So that journey started, um, it's, it's so interesting. I never, when I had kids, I didn't even know what a postpartum doula was. So it wasn't like I set out to be a postpartum doula. It really started for me becoming a volunteer breastfeeding counselor through like a local organization. And I did that. I went through that training because when I was pregnant with twins, so I, my kids are three years apart. So my daughter was born and then three years later we have a shock of our lives that like we're having two babies. Um, so we, at the time that I was pregnant with the boys, I would say, you know, Oh, I plan to breastfeed. And so often the risk people's response was like, good luck with that. Or is that even possible? You know, I mean, you know, sometimes people's response to anything.

Valerie: It's just like, Oh my gosh. Um, so after I had breastfed the boys and they were a little bit older, I pursued being a breastfeeding counselor to help other people who were in that situation and thinking like, I don't know, is it possible? You know, and if they had questions just to have somebody to speak with who had had, who had gone through it. So it was like, it was kind of a long training. It was like 10 weeks you went every other week. And it was funny because I would be like writing essays about clogged milk ducts and my husbands my husbands going, no wonder they don't have a lot of volunteers, this is a lot of work. So a couple years later at that point I had come to understand what a postpartum doula was, what that looked like. And so then I pursued becoming a postpartum doula. And, um, I did that so that I was prepared, um, when my kids were in school, so really to work overnights, that's what works best. So I'm certified through DONA International as a postpartum doula. And then after working with so many breastfeeding families in their homes, as a doula, I saw the value of having that lactation piece. So then I went and was certified as a certified lactation counselor.

Nicole: Okay, perfect. Perfect. I guess, what did you do before you got into the birth space?

Valerie: Oh, totally different thing. I, um, my degree is in marketing. I worked, I worked for a TV production company for a long time, so absolutely zero having to do with babies, but I feel like it's so interesting to see like how that serves me now. You know, it's like, I'm filming myself in my house. I'm like back in my TV production days, it comes together.

Nicole: Isn't that the truth. Isn't that the truth. So then what led you to then go on develop like online classes and a community there?

Valerie: Well, as a doula working like in people's homes, um, I would see just the difference that it made when new parents felt like they knew what they were doing. Um, and I think that that confidence comes from feeling prepared. It's so powerful. So, you know, I would see that if both people didn't feel confident, cause sometimes in a relationship it's one person who feels like they know what to do with the baby, or they know how to change a diaper or give a bath or whatever it is. And so in those situations, if one person feels much more comfortable, all of the work or everything falls to that one person. So really wanting to help everybody to feel prepared and excited when their baby arrives. So I created Expecting 101 to make it easy for people to get that information that they needed so that they felt like they were, they knew what they were doing. Now, this was pre pandemic.

Valerie: So there was still that option of going to a class at the hospital for newborn care or breastfeeding, but I wanted them to be able to watch together and to be able to then go on to ask questions, you know, if you, as your baby, you know, your due date approaches or after your baby's arrived, if you have questions, I wanted to be able to be a resource for people. I always tell my course members, I'm like, don't Google search. Don't randomly look online. I want to be your resource. As you know, you get ready to welcome your baby. And then I created my second online course, which is Expecting 101: You're Adopting after working with a family who was preparing to adopt twin boys. And that was my first family, um, as a doula who I'd worked with that was adopting and it was so, you know, just so special they were adopting twin boys. So I think I always have this bond with people who are having twin boys where it's like, what a blessing. That's a lot of boys

Valerie: Kind of that balance of like, yes, I remember that feeling well. Um, so adoption is a lot of paperwork and waiting and all of that, but at the end you're going to have a baby. And so I love helping people prepare for that time and kind of going away from, I know there's a lot, a lot of other things happening in adoption, but let's talk about when your baby arrives, I want you to feel ready when you get that call that you've been matched. So, um, you know, my course provides it provides education hours, which people like for a lot of agencies that requires education hours. And I really just wanted to create something that spoke specifically to an adoptive situation because there's a lot that's the same, no matter if you gave birth to this baby or adopted the baby. So there's a lot, that's the same about life with a newborn, but there's also things that are different. So I wanted to speak to that and just have a resource specifically for those families adopting.

Nicole: Love it. So many doulas focus on birth. What led you to focus specifically on the postpartum period?

Valerie: It is, it is true. Many people will say, you know, like I was just getting my hair done the other day and she's like, well, were you at a birth last night? I'm like, no, I'm not, you know, people don't realize that there are birth doulas and postpartum doulas. And some people are certified as both. Um, I am just certified as a postpartum doula because for me, I love supporting people during that time of transition, you know, as everybody's adjusting to life as a new family, it, you know, you have kids, many people know having a baby changes your relationship with your partner. You're adjusting to this new role as a parent. Um, and you're looking for support to understand how to care for this little person or what does that cue mean? And so a lot of what I do as a doula is confidence building, you know, just that people know that you're doing exactly what you should be, as you all get to know each other.

Nicole: Got it, got it. That makes a lot of sense. And I didn't even realize you could get certified as just specifically a postpartum doula. So you learn something new every day.

Valerie: And as I say, I work just overnights, but some doulas work just, you know, just during the days. So just to give you a little picture of what it looks like on my end, I work usually 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. It kind of depends on I have a high schooler, so I need to be back to get her to school. So it depends how far I am. If I'm going into Philly, it usually is 9:30 to 5:30. But during that time I'm taking care of, you know, the babies or the babies, however many babies there are so that people can get some rest because for a lot of, you know, that's a big piece of this. You have this new person, your body is recovering and you're doing this all on so much less sleep than you're used to. So parents are able to get some more sleep than if I weren't there.

Valerie: If mom's breastfeeding, you know, watching those feeds to see is the baby's latch effective, is milk transferring. Um, and then at the end, you know, cause a lot of people will say, well, should I get a doula- I'm planning to breastfeed? What would a doula do? And the way I explain it is, you know, you're going to hand me back this baby who's hiccuping, who pooped while he was eating and needs to be soothed and held upright for 20 minutes and you can go back to bed. And so it really is. People love it. Some people are, you know, that first night a lot of people are like, okay, we're going upstairs. I have to be honest. This feels a little weird leaving our baby. And then they come down the next morning and they're like, everyone needs a postpartum doula. So, you know, I also do, I do baby laundry, light meal prep, get systems in place. So if, as someone's talking about something, they'll say, you know, or I'll notice they don't have something at their changing station or their bottle station could use a little setup. People love waking up in the morning and seeing like what happened while they were sleeping.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So how long do you typically work with families?

Valerie: Well, you know, it can be, it can be really different. I have families who I have worked with for several nights a week for months, but then there are also families who I've worked with just one or two nights. I've had several people give one or two nights of my service to someone as a baby shower gift. And I always love that. It's a great gift. Um, so I think it's important to understand doula care can be adapted to what your situation is or your budget is. And so I tell people upfront, like if you know, okay, we have $2,000 we're willing to spend on this or, you know, my in-laws are gonna give us this much money, be open with your doula about that so I can help you to figure out, okay, let's put more nights at the beginning, but I like, I wouldn't want you to run out of money by three weeks is a tough time with life with a newborn. So I won't let you run out of money before three weeks. We'll kind of make it last until then. So I think it's, it can look like whatever your situation is.

Nicole: I love that. I love that because I think sometimes people can get caught up on the cost and can I afford it? And you're like, just work with what you have to get the most out of it, the experience.

Valerie: Oh, for sure. And I definitely, I get it where it sounds like, Ooh, that's fancy, you have a postpartum doula, but you could, I've worked with families where I just worked Sunday night for, you know, five weeks. And it's just to have that light in the middle of your week where you're like, Oh my gosh, I can't do this. But Valerie comes on Sunday, you know, so you can keep going. So, and then you also have that time to run things by me, you know, uh, very often, as soon as I walk in mom or dad will open up their phone and they have their notes, you know, and it's like, you know, his head's flaking is that normal? Is that normal? And just having that person to run these things by is such a value. And I think it's important to say a doula isn't, uh, you know, this isn't a medical position, I'm not a nurse. So there are certainly times where I'll say, you know, somebody will like, I'll change a diaper and be like, ha, this circumcision looks a little, you know, you might want to reach out in the morning. I would call your doctor or just things where it's like here, you don't know what's normal. You've been a parent for like four days. You know, know what the heck is. Yeah. So I always say, I just live in the newborn stage. I just go over and over in the newborn stage with people.

Nicole: Gotcha. So, I mean, it could be like one night a week, it could be two nights a week. It's just like, um, nice to have that person that's there. Like you said, can just take the relief off for a little bit. And, and, and like someone who has experience who you can bounce things off of. I'm sure that is invaluable.

Valerie: Oh people. Yeah. It's, it's so much confidence building and you know, I'll get there and some nights, and people are like, Ooh, look, I tried that thing you said, and this they're so excited to tell me when different things have worked or like, I held him this way, like you said, the other night and he went to sleep or whatever, it it's so valuable to have someone in your home.

Nicole: Yeah, for sure. For sure. And then, okay, so let's talk about what if someone is thinking about having a postpartum doula, when should they reach out, um, to sort of establish that relationship?

Valerie: The answer is earlier than you would think, um, pretty early, uh, it depends where you live, you know, where you live with the, how many doulas there are around the earlier the better, I think, because then you kind of have your pick instead of calling. And, you know, even like I had a call with someone the other day who was due in September and she was ended up to be too far from me, but I was like, okay, here's your resources. You really need to get on this because you don't want to just have to be like, this is the only person I could find. Cause you know, it's so important that you find the right person for your situation. So I would say by sixteen to 20 weeks, that's great. Now, if you're, you know, someone's listening and they're like, this all sounds great and I'm 32 weeks pregnant.

Valerie: Is this too late for me, it's never too late. Like I have people who have hired me after their baby is born and it just looks very different than what they thought it would look like. Or maybe, you know, their C-section incision came open and now they can't even lift their baby. I've definitely started working with families after the baby arrived. So there's no time where it's like, boy, you missed the boat on that whole doula thing. But I think if you know, now that this sounds like something that would work for your family, it's best to reach out and try to find that person.

Nicole: Got it. So you start working with families. If you start working with them during the pregnancy, how soon are you meeting them at home after the birth?

Valerie: So usually what it looks like is I'll have a phone conversation or Zoom or FaceTime or something and we'll just get, get the question like I did with that mom who was doing September. And we talk through pretty early on, we realized, okay, this is it. You know, you're too far from me, but let me tell you about what doula care looks like. And you know, you had a tough time breastfeeding the first time you're going to want somebody who has that lactation piece and really understands. So we have a phone conversation and then I go to meet them usually at their home, which is what works best. And in-person, that's free for most doulas that I know it's free to go. Just kind of that interview where I'm getting to know you and you're getting to know me and we're finding out if this is a good match and then we'll talk at that time, you'll sign a contract with what, you know, your intentions are. You're looking for this much, you know, this many nights a week or for this long. And then we'll talk about when you want me to start. And for many, most people, it is either the first or second night after they bring the baby home.

Nicole: Okay. Okay, perfect. Perfect. And then how do you find that balance? I guess that's, you're not there every night. It's not like you're, I assume you're typically not there.

Valerie: No. Yeah, no. I mean, there was definitely a time in my career as a doula where I worked five nights a week. Now, just that balance with my online business and my family. I try not to be too grouchy like many nights in a row. But, um, yeah. So, no, I'm usually a couple of nights a week, but on the nights I'm not there, I'm always, you know, we're always texting if somebody has a question or something like that, so it's still, um, a resource for people, but you know, some people are looking for five nights a week and it's like, okay, I'm probably not your girl, but let me help you kind of point you in the direction of who is.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. Well, how about five nights a week? How do you find that balance of like, um, being there, but also allowing the new parents to interact with the baby and, and get to learn the baby and know the baby? Because I feel like even though, you know, nights you want some rest, you also, some of those nights are a lot about getting to know this tiny human being that you are charged with. So how do you find that, that balance?

Valerie: Yeah. And I think that balance is necessary even when I'm just there two nights a week, because you'll say, okay, like when, you know, very often mom will wake up in the middle of the night if she's pumping or sometimes it's, or if we're feeding or even if she's not breastfeeding, she might come down and want to talk through things and I'll say, or in the morning, you know, I'll say here's, here's what happened last night. He really started losing it around 2:00 AM. Let me show you what I did so that if this happens, you know, you, you know what worked last night, that doesn't mean it's always gonna work, but it's what worked last night. And then we'll, we'll learn different things over the nights I'm not there, they'll say this happened, Oh my gosh, is this okay? Or I laid him down and I looked over and he spit up all over the place. What could I, what else could we have done? And just kind of talking through different situations, um, preemptively, and then after they've happened saying, okay, well next time I would try this. So it sounds like there's not a, to be honest, there's not a lot of people who can afford five nights a week care for very long. That's a lot. But, um, so there usually is that balance of, um, you know, the nights I'm not there and then talking through what happened and things like that.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Now, speaking of costs, how much to postpartum doulas typically cost, and I know there's a range and it depends on the area where you are, but how much do they typically cost?

Valerie: Yeah, for sure. It does depend on where you are in the country. I would say between like $25 an hour to $50 an hour is probably, I mean, I know that's also a very large range, but somewhere in there and usually a doula is going to have a minimum. So during the day, like when I did work days, my minimum was four hours. Like I don't want to drive all the way to your house to work there for two hours. You know? So for a lot of people that minimum is three or four hours during the day. At night, that minimum is usually eight hours. So cause some people will say, can I just hire you from like midnight to four? Yeah. Wouldn't that be great. So just the time you really don't want to be asleep, but usually that minimum is eight hours for overnight care.

Nicole: Gotcha. Now, if you, and I mean, I know this is hard to say, but it depends on everybody's individual circumstance, but if you're like working on your budget, do you think people find it more useful to have someone during the day or have someone at night?

Valerie: I think it depends if you're looking for that support next to you, as you're like, I have to like the data, although I was going to say that day-to-day tasks, but like, let's take something like a bath. Like if I'm talking with a new family and they're like, Oh my gosh, uh, you know, we're terrified of the bath because a slippery, teeny, tiny baby is, is terrifying for a lot of people. So it's like, we'll plan ahead. And I'll say, okay, when I come on Thursday, let's plan to do the bath and they'll have everything ready and then I can stand off to the side and do that. So, you know, if there's a lot of things about the day-to-day care of your baby, that you're like, I just want to watch someone do this. You could, um, ha you might be better off to have someone during the day.

Valerie: I think the nighttime is where people really just see such a value in being able to, because you know, they'll very often stay up for a little while after I've gotten there, we'll have a download of information. Maybe there's a bath. Maybe they, you know, they need to trim the baby's nails or they want to know how to take the baby's temperature and we'll work through that. And then they get to go to bed. And then, um, so there, there is that balance, I think overnight care is probably the most valuable, but I don't know if I just say that because I'm an overnight doula.

Nicole: Well, yeah, I mean, rest is, is very valuable. What you're giving people is some, some reprieve and rest for a bit. Yeah. So why don't we get into some practical advice of things to do when you have this brand new baby that you are taking care of? So what about three things that people don't know about life with a newborn?

Valerie: Okay. Yeah, this is, this is the good stuff here. I think one thing, what I start most, every workshop, every live, I start everything by saying, helping people to understand crying is your baby's only form of communication. And I think it's really important. And I explain it to families this way. Like if someone's listening to this and understanding us, they likely speak English. Um, your baby is born fluent in his native language, which is crying. And so we just, it helps to think of it that way, because you know, if my husband walked in the door right now and he was sobbing, I would obviously be like, Oh my gosh, what's wrong. It's very different than if I, you know, my baby was laying here right now, crying. He's just trying to communicate something. So out of my courses, I talk all about there's little clues that the baby is giving you when he's crying, you know, is his belly doing this, is his back doing this, is, you know, we look at different things to understand why is this baby crying?

Valerie: And then we talk about what you can do to help him stop crying. But I think the really important thing is what the crying doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that your baby doesn't like you or isn't comfortable with you or doesn't trust you. And you know, like, let's remember, you're your, body's recovering from this huge accomplishment of growing and delivering this person. And you've had a lot less sleep than you're used to. And now when there's this little person who just keeps crying, it's really easy to take that crying personally. But when you think of it as his native language, and you're like, we, you know, it's as if you're in a different country, if you're just like, I'm sorry, we don't speak the same language. Let me try to figure out what you're saying.

Nicole: Right, right. I love that. That is excellent advice. Cause it can be really easy to personalize or take your personal that this, this child is screaming.

Valerie: Oh yeah. And now you're thinking like, I just, he doesn't like me and it's like, Oh no, no, no. He loves you. Yes. Okay. So number two is just to remember that you are both doing something that you've never done before well all three of you, actually you, your partner and the baby. And you know, this baby is new to earth. Like this baby was not breathing air three days ago or drinking milk. And you're new to being a parent. And your partner is new to being a parent and supporting you, being a parent. And so there's just like anything else. There is a learning curve. And I think there's just such a need to show yourself grace and show your partner, grace. And you know, it's just a transitional time.

Nicole: 100%. I just, I mean, I don't think we, we realize that. And there's also this expectation in a way that like, Oh, you, you know, you'll figure it out, you know? And it doesn't always, you will get there. Eventually. It doesn't necessarily always mean it's easy or straightforward. And sometimes you need to ask for help.

Valerie: Oh, for sure. And for a lot of people, when I'm either like in my monthly chats with my course members, or if I'm working in someone's home, they'll say things that are like, they almost, they feel like their baby is laying there crying like tick tock lady. When are you going to figure out what the heck I need? That's not what's happening here. Yes. Your baby might be like, Oh, I'm crying. Cause I'm hungry. But guess what? Your baby also might have no idea why he's crying. Like if we can all think of times where we're just like, Oh my gosh, I'm exhausted. And I'm losing it. I'ts very possible your baby's feeling that way. So people are, you know, people will say, Oh gosh, I just can't figure out why he's crying. It's like, okay, well go outside, take him outside. Birds and clouds, solve a lot of problems.

Nicole: Right. Love it. Love it. Love it. So what about the third piece of advice or third thing that people don't know?

Valerie: People don't know is that you can't spoil a newborn. And I think this is important because when I get to someone's home, very often, they will say like, they'll look at me like they're in trouble and be like, I've been holding him for like 45 minutes. It's like, if that's okay, you know, you just had this, this baby was in your body four days ago or a week ago. It's okay. You're getting to know each other. Or, you know, I keep rocking him to sleep. Isn't that horrible? Like he's a newborn he's used to being in your belly where there was a lot of motion. So the fact that being rocked to sleep is comforting to him isn't strange now, you know, if you're still, you better think long, you know, do you still want to be rocking your six month old or your nine month old to sleep?

Valerie: That's a different story, but you can't spoil a brand new baby. Now I have, I am like a planner. I am type a, a lot of the people in my course are planners who just want to like, know what to expect and for planners it's what, when can I, when, when can I spoil him? Like, you know, is it three weeks? Is it two weeks? There's not a switch that goes off where like warning your baby can now be spoiled. I think when it comes down to grace and showing yourself, okay, in the beginning, I'm doing these things that I think I should do. And that my baby seems to like, or, and that's okay. You know, something, if your baby just ate an hour ago, but you think he's showing you those cues that he's hungry and you feed him. That doesn't mean you have to feed your baby every hour for the next two years. It just means that right now seems like he wants to eat. And so you're feeding him. So I think that's important to understand.

Nicole: This one I think you could say like over and over again, and I don't know if, you know, from my experience in the black community, this is often something that's like repeated down from generations. Like don't spoil that baby. Don't pick that baby up. And it's like, you cannot spoil you just can't. They need you. They want you, you want them, you like that, that close time. You're not going to hurt a baby. I remember my first baby was a preemie. And um, when we came home from the ho, we were going home from the hospital and the neonatologist was like, just hold her all the time. But you know, it's, it's important to help them develop and get to know you get to know your smell

Valerie: Right. You get, hear your voice. And yes,

Nicole: Voice, yes. Get to know that you are there. You will be there for them from the very beginning. And honestly, Nash. I feel like naturally you'll get to a point where I don't want to sound like cavalier about it, but you're, you're not going to want to hold your baby every single day for every single second. Like eventually you get to a normal routine and like, I have to do other things you'll want to do other things.

Valerie: Well, and I think it's also important because as much as that is, this is the experience of so many people. You might also be five days postpartum. And you're like, I don't really want to hold my baby right now. And that's okay too. It's like I say to people, you put your baby in his crib, put your baby somewhere safe and hop in the shower and come back out. And that's your little refresh. It's okay. If you want to hold your baby and it's okay if you don't.

Nicole: Yes, yes. Love it. Love it, love it. All of it is normal. And none of it means that you love your baby more or less. Right. You know, it's not a reflection of how you feel about your child. Yes. Very true. Yeah. So how being a mother affected your work?

Valerie: Well, um, I think my work as a doula, I look at what I went through and how it allows me to speak to situations. You know, I had a, I had a vaginal birth the first time, and so I have that experience. And then the second time I had this baby a who just would not flip, I tried everything. I tried acupuncture. I tried chiropractic techniques. He didn't flip so that I needed a C-section. So then I recovered from a C-section and my breastfeeding journey was not ideal. It was really, really challenging. But as a result, now I look back at that and I can speak to the situations of thrush and mastitis. And I'm a very faithful person. And I think that this journey that, you know, all these experiences that I had were helping me to prepare to support this mom who's like losing it because she has mastitis or you know, this pain from C-section.

Valerie: So those experiences have helped me. And of course, having twins it's, you know, when I interview with a family, who's having twins and they're looking for a doula. I, you know, it's like, yep, I've been there. I remember that sometimes when people just stand off to the side, I wonder if, I don't think I would be nearly as comfortable with twins if I didn't have them. But the one time I was standing there and I'm sh I I'm at the changing table, I always put the babies right next to each other. These babies have spent a lot of time together. They like being next to each other. And then it's time, I'm going to go over to the couch and feed them. And the mom and dad are standing there and they said, is it okay if we don't help you? We just want to see how you're going to get over there. I'm like absolutely, learn together and carry them. Like, they're one person. And it's like, I, I wonder at times like that, like if I didn't have twins, would I be like, Oh, sorry, buddy. It's like, Nope, you guys were together. You're in our house. We have a, a saying you shared a belly. You can share a chair. It's like, there's not enough chairs somewhere. It's like, you squish those babies together. They've spent a lot of time together. So I think that experience has served me well,

Nicole: Love it. Love it. Love it. So just to wrap up, what do you think is one of the most frustrating parts of your work?

Valerie: I don't know that I honestly have a good answer for that. And not because I'm like the most forgiving patient person in the world. I just think everybody's situation is so different. And it looks, you know, I've worked with families who they just had their fourth baby and people will be like, Hey, they hired their doula. And they had there. They have four kids. Yes. Because that transition is different for them than if it was their first baby. So there's a lot of grace involved in this and just helping people to, you know, get comfortable with whatever that situation looks like.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. That makes you hate that. I don't know. We have a lot of judgment and it's like, everybody's just stop judging people do, do what they want to do with their own life.

Valerie: Oh, for sure. And stop getting, you know, like you're not looking at perfection. Everybody's life looks different and I think that's okay. And just adjusting to what your situation is. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. For sure. So on the flip side, what's the most rewarding part of your work?

Valerie: Uh, you know, it sounds weird, but it's when they don't need me anymore. So if I'm working with your family, you know, it's sad if you're going to someone's house at 9:45 at night, three days after you've given birth or adopted very quickly we're fast friends, you know? So when, if I've worked with you for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, it's sad. I mean, I've cried in the living rooms of many families as we're all crying and because this time is over, but it also means that you don't need me because you're comfortable in your role. You feel like you've got this. You're good. And I always, you know, I keep up with all of my family as well. I always say you can always text me a question, but it has to come with a picture. You can text me any question, but send me a picture. And so that is really what's so rewarding is just, and of course when people like refer others to me as tell people, you know,

Nicole: Yeah, that is, that's definitely rewarding. Like you've, you've helped this person through, um, what can be a challenging time and help them to get feel competent in their own abilities as a parent.

Valerie: Oh, for sure. And people always at the last day of their they'll always go, remember when I cried, I'm like everyone cries. Cause people, everyone it's like, as soon as I sit down next to you and say, how's it going? Like generally you're going to start crying. Like, that's just how it goes. You're a new mom not to laugh. It is so true.

Nicole: Looking back, you don't realize it, but literally y'all every single at some point when you have a newborn, you're going to cry for sure.

Valerie: And they always think that they're the only one they're like, Oh my gosh. And remember when I cried, I'm like, I remember when you cry, but that, it's a special thing to be a part of. Like, I love that you felt comfortable enough with me that you wanted to open up about how you were really feeling. So it is, it's a, it's such a journey to be on with people.

Nicole: Sure. For sure. And then just to end, what is your favorite piece of advice that you would give to expectant families?

Valerie: You know, you kind of alluded to it before, but there's nothing you should know. There's nothing that like, you know, you, you were supposed to know that it's okay. If you want to watch a video of me giving a baby a bath or changing a diaper or dressing a baby, people assume that it should be natural, that they should instinctively know how to do all of these things. But that is just not true. It's okay to have to learn these things and to get comfortable in this role. So I think people are really hard on themselves and it's like, I should know how to do this. We're breastfeeding. Oh my gosh. You know, people are like, why isn't this natural for me as if like the baby's mouth is magnetically attracted to their nipple and they feel horrible when it, you know, they hit a hit bumps in the road and it's like, no, you do not. You, you know, let me help you. Let me show you what I've learned after I've lived through the newborn stage hundreds and hundreds of times, let me show you, you know? Yeah,

Nicole: Exactly. And I think, you know, we don't, I hate to say like back in the day, but back in the day, there used to be more women around and families were together. So you would have like your mother or your aunt or your grandmother who could help you through these things. I don't think it was ever that people back in the day suddenly knew everything. I think they just had naturally more of a community around them. So you just had somebody who was, you know, right next door or in your home, who you could ask and our times are just different. And I think we can find those connections in different ways, like online now and things like that, that we can get back to that where you have this sort of village of people around you, who you can reach out to and help because it is not all like it doesn't just suddenly pop into your head.

Valerie: No, for sure. And I think another thing is that people are having babies later in their life. So maybe their parents are around, but now their parents are older and they're like, my mother couldn't walk down the stairs with my baby or something like that. So, or they don't want their family to support, but they want their family support. But not in that way of like, I don't want my mom to come over and like, you know, do my laundry, or tell me what to do about this. You know, I think it just looks different and understanding that there is this option of having this professional, this expert come into your home and help you through this transitional time can be so beneficial.

Nicole: For sure. For sure. So where can people find you?

Valerie: Well, I, I do a lot on Instagram and YouTube, both of which I'm @newparentsacademy. So got lots of resources there. And I have a free workshop for people who are expecting, it's called Seven Things New Parents Learn The First Week Home with Their Baby. And we really dive into that first week because I think that there's things that I can tell you now that maybe even if you don't remember them, I ask people to take notes, but it's like, then when you're going through that during the first week, you're like, Oh, Valerie talks about this in that workshop. So you can check out that workshop as well. It's at newparentsacademy.com/seventhings.

Nicole: Perfect. Perfect. Well, thank you so much. And guys we'll link all her, all of her things up in the show notes. So thank you so much for agreeing to come onto the podcast, your passion and commitment, and just really joy around your work. It's just, comes through.

Valerie: Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Nicole: So wasn't that a great conversation. I especially love those tips for a newborn.

Nicole: It was really, really helpful. Now after every episode where I have a guest on, I do something called Nicole's Notes where I will share my top three or four takeaways from the episode, here are mine. Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Valerie. Number one, I've said this before. I'm going to say it again. Consider getting a doula. Okay? Whether you have a doula during your birth or a doula postpartum or both research has shown that during labor, having a doula or continuous labor support from someone like a doula can shorten your labor, it can decrease your name, your need for pain medication increase your chances for having a vaginal birth. All of these things are wonderful. We don't have a lot of research on postpartum doulas, but just talking about it sounds fantastic. I know that it can be a cost. One of the great ways that you can help cover this is to add it to your registry, to kind of crowd source a doula babylist.com.

Nicole: And I'm not affiliated with baby list at all, but they allow you to put anything you want on your registry. So you can have people contribute to helping you get a doula. If need be. I'm telling you, you will find this much more helpful than having like 45 onesies. Okay. Tip number two is you definitely want to take the time and make sure that that particular doula is a fit for you. Doulas are great, but just because someone is a doula doesn't necessarily mean that they're right for you or that they are great at their jobs. So to speak, there was a post in the private Facebook group for the course about someone who had some difficult interactions with her doula and don't get me wrong. Like I said, doulas are great, but they're people too. Um, and just like anybody else, they may not be the right fit for you, or they may not, you know, have or provide the things that you need.

Nicole: So you definitely want to interview and ask questions of that person before you hire them. Another thing that can also feel a little bit odd. Sometimes people are like, I don't really know this person. It feels weird to have a new person like in my birth space or in my home. And that's, again, where an interview and talking to people can help and meeting with people ahead of time can help. Inside the Birth Preparation Course I have a list of questions that you can ask before you interview a doula. One of those things is that you need to do a body compass, check a body check about how feels for you. Okay? So in addition to their experience and the things that you know, what they provide for you, one of the things you need to check in with is just how does it feel having that person around?

Nicole: Because that really goes a long way in terms of making you feel comfortable to have this person in your birth space and in your home. Okay. So definitely interview and ask and make sure that that person is right for you. Don't just assume that because they're a doula, they're going to be great. All right. And number three is that everyone needs a village after birth. The medical community does not provide that. So you're going to have to work to create your own village for yourself. A doula is indicative of how our village is just different. I really love the idea that you can work your budget in order to have a doula there based on your budget. It doesn't have to be every night and you know, maybe it can be one night a week or two nights a week for a certain amount of time.

Nicole: I love, love, love that idea. And then other things to add to your village and maybe friends, it may be an online community, but make sure you create that village for yourself. Everyone needs it, or it could be family also, you know, create that village for yourself. You need it in that postpartum period, especially I think in the first month to help you get adjusted and really focus on getting to know this new human being that you have. You're both learning new things. You're both figuring each other out and being able to really focus on that as important. So create that village for yourself after your birth. So there you have it, that is it for this episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts or wherever you're listening to me right now. And I would really love it. If you leave a review on Apple Podcast, in particular, those reviews really help the show to grow, help the show to get featured, uh, helps other people find the show. So I appreciate the reviews and Apple Podcasts in particular. Also don't forget the Valerie and I will be doing a live Q and A session only for members of the Birth Preparation Course next week. If you are not a member, you can come join us right now at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. All right. So that's it for this episode, come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth.

Nicole: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.