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In this episode, I interview women’s health expert Bianca Marie Roberson. Bianca is located in Maryland, and has over 17 years of experience working in the public health field, including serving as a health services administrator for the military, healthcare insurance operations analyst for the Georgia Department of Community Health, and a corporate healthcare accounts manager for CareerBuilder. After years of program management, health disparities research, and community advocacy, Bianca Marie answered her personal calling to become a mom and full-spectrum doula, a motherhood transformational coach, and a doula business coach. She is also founder of Blooming Mamas Wellness Institute – an organization providing trauma counseling and health education for parents, as well as doula services to uplift clients across the country. Bianca Marie holds a Bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and public health, and an MBA in healthcare administration. 

We talk about Bianca Marie’s traumatic birth experience, and how she helps families heal from similar situations to go on to have healthy trauma-free births. Bianca Marie also gives valuable insights on virtual support for families during the pandemic, as well as business tips for doulas.

Resources

 

Transcript

Rebecca Dekker:

Hi, everyone on today’s podcast. We’re going to talk with Bianca Marie Robertson about healing from a traumatic birth. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See evbirth.com/disclaimer for more details.

Rebecca Dekker:

Welcome to this week’s episode of the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. Just one quick note, before we get started, I do want to announce a trigger warning for today’s content related to obstetric violence and specifically obstetric violence related to racism. Everyone today I’m so excited to welcome Bianca Marie to the Evidence Based Birth podcast. Bianca Marie Robertson is a woman’s health expert currently located in Maryland with more than 17 years experience working in the public health field, including working as a health services administrator for the military, healthcare insurance operations analysts for the Georgia Department of Community Health and a corporate healthcare accounts manager for CareerBuilder.

Rebecca Dekker:

After years of program management, health disparities research and community advocacy, Bianca Marie answered her personal calling to become a mom, full spectrum doula and the founder of Blooming Mama’s Wellness Institute, an organization that provides trauma counseling and health education for parents, as well as doula services to uplift clients across the country. Bianca Marie holds a Bachelor’s in Women’s Studies and Public Health from Spelman College and an MBA in Healthcare Administration from Capella University. Bianca Marie is also a mother, a transformational coach and she is a doula business coach. She’ll tell us more about these roles in the interview. Welcome Bianca Marie to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast.

Bianca Marie:

Thank you so much. I’m honored to be here with you. Thank you.

Rebecca Dekker:

I was so excited when you reached out to me and talked about coming on the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. I was wondering if you could begin by sharing, you said you had a personal calling to become a mom and a full spectrum doula, could you tell us a little bit more about your journey into motherhood and becoming a doula?

Bianca Marie:

Absolutely. I would say, my personal calling, it chose me at a very young age. Growing up, I grew up in South Carolina military, so we moved around a lot, but my home base is in South Carolina. With both of my grandmothers, I saw them struggle with their health. Very transparently and very upfront as a young girl, I saw what it was like to have limited access to adequate health care and how that impacts your life. I saw health disparities with what the health disparities were. I just saw inequality when it came to healthcare. As a young girl, I remember experiences and I remember seeing the frustrations and the struggles, and that really pivoted me into the realm of public health. That was the whole reason why I’ve dedicated really my professional career in the realm of public health.

Bianca Marie:

Fast forward a number of years from healthcare administration and governance and policy side from the local, regional and within the Federal Government. All of those years of experience, there was always something missing. That area that was missing for me, that nagging, that calling that was missing for me, was that emotional support and helping women similar to my grandmother, feel comfortable, feel equal, feel that they had a voice in their healthcare journey. Specifically, I couldn’t remember the number of years with nine neighbors, church, family, friends, those in my network reaching out to me saying, “Bianca, I’m pregnant, I’m expecting.” They knew that I knew the latest stats when it came to women’s health. They knew that I knew a number of providers and the hospitals in the area, and I have recommendations. They knew I could talk to them about birth plans.

Bianca Marie:

I would say that the calling found me. My personal calling found me to be a doula organically, and before I even knew what a doula was as a career, as a professional. It was just something that I always did, provide emotional support to family and friends in my community. Cause I always knew that if you could help one mother, one woman be healthy, help her in some way whether it’s emotional support, social support. If you can help her, then she had a better chance that the family, the children, the spouse, whomever else in the household, usually had a better chance of being healthy because I know most of the women do the grocery shopping, the cooking, those sorts of things. If you can help a mom, I saw the rippling effect of that. Again, they would all go back to when I was a very young child, seeing the rippling effect of my grandmothers and their health and how that impacted the family and my community.

Bianca Marie:

Like I said, fast forward a number of years, I became a doula, I would say informally, but I loved it. Combining my professional experience in healthcare and then being a doula, that really was the epitome of it. That was where I was able to feel my calling all together. Now I am, I am a full spectrum doula. I work with clients who birth moms and birthing persons that have all sorts of different experiences. Trauma is one area that I do work with as well now. That was really from my personal birth experience. I have a two-year-old that’s going on three. My experience I found is not unique to women of color. There is some issues that I had from my delivery. I was fortunate that my pregnancy itself was healthy and almost textbook perfect. In that, with my weight gain and morning sickness, all those sorts of things, it was actually a very pleasant pregnancy. I know everybody can’t testify to that or didn’t have that experience[crosstalk 00:06:01].

Rebecca Dekker:

You had a healthy pregnancy. This was after you’d been providing both informal and formal doula services for your community for years. People were coming to you even before you had your own children, they must have seen something in you that you said you didn’t even realize you had, they were drawn to you for advice with pregnancy and birth before you had your own children. That’s wonderful.

Bianca Marie:

It’s just because I did a lot of health education. I did, whether it was at a church or at a community center. I did classes in the evenings where I was just providing health education on a plethora of things. A broad spectrum of issues from breast cancer and awareness to diabetes, just all sorts of things. I was looked to in my community as an educator and being a doula, that’s just a natural evolution. Then after my delivery experience with my daughter, that’s when I said, you know what? I had to move this full speed ahead. After that experience is when I said, “You know what, I need to do this formerly.” That’s where Blooming Mama Wellness Institute blossomed out of that experience.

Rebecca Dekker:

Can you tell us more, then, about your birth experience? You said it was just a couple of years ago.

Bianca Marie:

It was two years ago. When I tell my story, sometimes people say, “Well, where was it?” It was in the Washington DC area, a progressive area. Like I said, it was a healthy pregnancy itself. I actually went to work that morning. I went to work that morning and felt some cramping. I said, “You know what, let me see if I can get a doctor’s appointment.” And I did. It was just very fortunate cause usually my doctor was booked, but I was able to go that day. That being probably around 11 o’clock or so.

Rebecca Dekker:

How far along, were you in your pregnancy?

Bianca Marie:

I was six weeks out.

Rebecca Dekker:

Six weeks before your due date.

Bianca Marie:

It’s six weeks before my due date, and I was having cramping. I went to my doctor and my doctor was very pleasant. I really love connecting with him. He reminded me of a grandfather with jokes and things. He did my exam, and then he says, “What do you have planned for today?” I said, “Well, you actually need to hurry up. Cause I have the office and I got a meeting at the office. I need to get back to it.” He was like, “No, actually I’m telling you what you need to do. You need to go to the hospital.” I didn’t realize by that time I was actually almost five centimeters. I didn’t realize it.

Bianca Marie:

I was one of the ones, and this goes back to the health education and why I love being a doula is because, I didn’t have my water, I didn’t have what you see in the movies and you hear about, “Lo, my water broke,” and you got to grab a towel. None of that. I didn’t have any of that type of experience. I have had very mild cramping, but it was just persistent enough that I knew that I needed to at least go to the doctor. That was the only reason why I went to the doctor besides that had no idea that I was in labor. Fast forward, I went to the doctor and went to the hospital as he recommended. It started off really well. Everything was okay getting into the room and one of the questions they asked me of course was, “Well, when did your water break?”

Bianca Marie:

I said, “I have no idea.” I already felt like a little bit of a disadvantage because of where my mind was. I was at work a couple of hours earlier that day, just thinking it was going to be a regular day and a couple of hours later, I’m laying in a hospital bed and my family is South Carolina hours away. With any birth that happens before the due date, you already kind of feel like you’re behind the ball a little bit. I’m thinking, “Oh, I wanted to do this with the nursery. I needed to do that still.” I think about all the checklists. With that came a little bit of a degree of anxiety, which I think is natural, but that was my reality. I was a little anxious. Fast forward, I did get an epidural and this is where the experience got unfair or one that I wouldn’t want others to have is that, I was nervous about getting epidural.

Bianca Marie:

I said, “No, no, no, no, I’m not going to do it.” Then I said, “Okay, let me do it.” My fiance and I, we had many conversations even prior to this about it. He always said, “I will support you whatever you need to do.” At that moment, I said, “Yeah, let’s go ahead and get the epidural.” Communicated with the nurse and not too much longer, but later on the anesthesiologist tech came in, so they’re starting to prep me and I am sitting on the edge of the bed, they’re moving my hospital gown so they can get to my back and situating me as appropriate. Their anesthesia’s tech looks over to my fiance and says, “I need you to move.” She said it very roughly in aggressively. He’s like, “Okay,” cause he was closer to me around by the bed.

Bianca Marie:

Cause of course he is my support, it’s the two of us in there. He moves over closer to a distance from me, but on the same side of the bed and she looks over at him and yells, “I told you, you need to move. If you don’t move right now, I’m going to call the police. You’re going to get kicked out of here. Just call security, and you’re going to get kicked out of here.” By this time when my eyes are the size of a saucer and he’s confused, I’m confused. Again, they’re still prepping to put a needle in my back, first epidural ever, all of the harsh stories that you could think of, were going through my head at this time. Not only that, now the environment shifts in my room, where I have anesthesiologist tech or assistant, that’s yelling at my fiance, commands and nobody’s understanding, cause he’s doing everything she says, but long story short, she goes again and again.

Bianca Marie:

Then the nurse and the anesthesiologist comes in and everybody’s like, “What’s going on?” I’m in tears by this time. He’s like, “I don’t know, she keeps telling me to move. I’m moving, but something’s not connecting here.” I’m just hysterical and I’m shaking, and all this while they’re telling me, “Don’t move, don’t move.” Cause they’re going to put a needle in my back. Even though she didn’t articulate it well, and this goes back to being able to communicate with your patients, what she didn’t say was that I need you to be on other side of the curtain or the side of the wall, because you can’t be behind me, can’t be behind Bianca as the anesthesiologist is going to do the epidural. All of that, it was just unnecessary.

Bianca Marie:

It was just very stressful. I actually had to pause before we did epidural cause I couldn’t stop shaking and tears and the anesthesiologist, I’m appreciative of. Cause she stepped in, actually asked the tech to leave and they replaced her and it got better. But for someone who’s first time birth, first time having an epidural, all of the crazy stories you can think of, to have such, and it took me a while to calm down and to relax. Cause to try to throw my fiance out of the hospital and we don’t know why or what’s going on. It was just a very traumatic moment and it stayed with me. It stayed with me. Fortunately it ended up. I had a successful delivery and I’m well, my daughter is well, but my experience was just one of the experiences I didn’t want others to have.

Bianca Marie:

It was two parts that I think would have helped that experience. One, like I said, my daughter came early, six weeks early and we actually didn’t have a chance to complete the birth class that we had signed up for. I knew, by epidural just from my experience as a doula, but it’s different when you’re in that situation. That was one thing that would have probably helped a little bit. But then the other part is certainly having a hospital staff and a team that was able to communicate effectively and not just assumptions and not speak to me as if we and my fiance, as though we were not equal or professionals in the room as well.

Bianca Marie:

After that is when I said, you know what? I want to make sure that every woman has the voice and can be an advocate and have an advocate in the room and have the awareness and somebody that can help translate what’s going on and help with the comfort in there. My fiance did a great job, but a doula was able to help even more. That was my personal experience, it was it that made me. It was infamous for me to say, I don’t want any other women to have any traumatic experience that’s unnecessary. You already have a lot going on when you gave me birth. Anything like that is unnecessary and can be avoided, it absolutely should.

Rebecca Dekker:

This was just two years ago in the DC area and threatening to call the police on your partner, seeing him as a threat, even though he’s just there doing what they’re telling him to do, being a support to you. I can see how that would color your memories of that experience. That kind of trauma definitely meets the definition of birth trauma. Even though you ended up, like you said, with a healthy birth, a healthy baby, you’ll never forget the way you were treated in that moment. There’s just so much racism we know in hospital settings. That is unacceptable.

Bianca Marie:

I have stories for days who other clients that have had similar situations where their voice just wasn’t heard or they simply were ignored and weren’t listened to. A lot of my clients, a good deal of my clients are from different backgrounds and ethnicities. African-American, and I have quite a few Asian and just different backgrounds and believe it or not our stories are similar. They’re different, but they’re similar. As a public health professional and with the realm of being a doula, that’s something that I am very passionate about. One of the things I keep striving because I do want everybody to be empowered when they go into that delivery room or to that hospital, to that birthing center, because it does have a rippling effect. I work with many clients that are baby two and baby three, and it carries through their other pregnancies and to other delivery experiences.

Bianca Marie:

If that trauma isn’t attended to, if it’s not healed, then you can have that same experience for future pregnancies. As a doula, I’m very aware of that. One of the things that I work with my clients is to try to overcome, so they go in with a good mindset, and healthy mindset and look to having the best experience possible. But it is a partnership, it has to be done on their end, as well as whatever hospital facility or the medical team as well. It’s two parties that have to be a part of that dance.

Rebecca Dekker:

What strategies are you trying with your doula clients, have you seen any success stories or empowering stories you can share with us?

Bianca Marie:

Yeah, absolutely. One of my clients that I just adore, they had one, one son and she’s actually pregnant now with number three. She had one son and that experience was traumatic. They are an interracial couple, in her first delivery experience again in the Washington DC area. It was actually at one of the local teaching hospitals. One of the things that she always said was, “I just don’t want anybody experimenting and testing on me.” She’s like, “I just don’t. I’m that, I don’t want a whole lot of people in the room and I’m not comfortable with the teaching aspect of it.” That’s one of the things that she always said, when she was in the delivery, her husband stepped away to get some coffee, and he thought everything was calm and she had some time and after he left and a team came in of doctors as well as with some residents. They came in and they wouldn’t let her husband back into the room cause they were going to give her the epidural at this time and they didn’t let him back in the room.

Bianca Marie:

I think she said it was about four or five students that were there and they asked her, they did, they asked her if she was okay with the students being there. She said, “No, I understand it’s a learning experience for them, but no, I’m actually not comfortable with it.” They said, “well it’s really to the benefit of everybody. Cause it’s just more eyes and ears that can help. This is a good experience for them.” And they didn’t leave. In addition to that, some again around the epidural, so the anesthesiologist was there, but then they had the students there and they were giving her the epidural. Then she recalls someone, she doesn’t know if it was the person that was actually given the epidural or not, but somebody on the team, somebody said, “Is that the right place?”

Bianca Marie:

That’s all she remembered. She actually blacked out. She had to have an emergency C-section. This whole time her husband is in the hallway. They wouldn’t let him back in the room. They wheel her out the room. He sees them running down the hall, it was a traumatic experience.

Rebecca Dekker:

That was her first birth?

Bianca Marie:

That was her very first birth.

Rebecca Dekker:

She almost lost her life.

Bianca Marie:

She almost lost her life. She was in the hospital a couple of days after. To answer their question, it was not the right place. They did not do it appropriately. Like I said, they’re interracial couple to top it off on the birth certificate, you get the birth certificate when you leave. If you fill out the paperwork, you have to get it later, but you filled out the paperwork there, they registered the newborn, and on there they put that she was single, even though they asked her many times, “Is that your husband?” She kept saying, “Yes.” That was one of the things that she recalls as well, is that they just seem to not believe that they were married, even though they’ve been married for years.

Bianca Marie:

It was a traumatic experience, not only for her, but for him. That’s something, as a doula and just in the world right now, it’s important to realize that even as a birthing person, we haven’t experienced a buddy when your partner or your spouse or whoever there is your support person, they too can have a traumatic experience. He does, that’s something that we talked about that he felt very helpless. He’s standing out in the hallway and people are running around and he knew something was wrong, but he didn’t know what, and nobody was talking to him.

Bianca Marie:

He felt not only his child, but his wife was in danger and they were. That was traumatic for him. The good part of this was that I was their doula for the second. I knew her that time, but it wasn’t her to do a lot for her first. But for her second one, we did a lot of trauma counseling and healing and we talked of affirmation to mindset and we did some research as to the hospital. Made sure we did the right tour and make sure we talked to enough people for her to feel comfortable about giving birth in a different hospital, of course, for the second one. But that’s just some of the background work that we did for her to feel empowered and for both of them to feel comfortable. Even during her birth, we did some reflexology and some other things that were just some natural pain coping mechanisms.

Bianca Marie:

I had music playing of a waterfall that was comforting for her and had aromatherapy. We just incorporated so many different techniques that just helped her relax as well as I was there, and definitely was an advocate and make sure that after every question that was asked of her and her husband, we always said, “Give us a few minutes.” Made sure that they had the time. They felt comfortable to think it over, to talk it over before anything progressed throughout the entire labor. One of the things why I consider this a successful story or successful experience for them, is that, she said, she felt like she was at the spa and she actually enjoyed this delivery, that second birth. It was like night and day between the first one and the second one. I contributed that to identifying the trauma and working with them, both of them, not only her, but with both of them from journaling experiences and some other techniques that we did.

Bianca Marie:

We went in with a positive mindset and went in with knowing that she was going to be advocated for, and that she was in control of the process. It was a beautiful experience and believe it or not after that, her mother became a doula.

Rebecca Dekker:

Was her mother there along?

Bianca Marie:

Her mother was there as well and so as a doula, I always incorporate the spouse or a partner or whomever else is there. I taught the mother some simple reflexology techniques and some other things. She was out, all of them, everybody’s always active and very involved in caring for the mother throughout the entire delivery. That’s one of the things that I pride myself on as a doula and her mother loved it. She’s a doula now,

Rebecca Dekker:

That is a huge success story? I love how you talked about you incorporate trauma counseling in your prenatal visits and working with the family leading up to the birth, cause it sounds like, if you hadn’t helped her process everything that they’d experienced, and her partner experienced, it would have been a lot more difficult. Then the other theme that really stands out to me is that theme of control that you mentioned, it just feels like listening to her second birth story, that she was in control every step of the way, even if something happened or an intervention was offered, she felt like she had a choice and they were going to listen to her voice because she had advocates with her in the room.

Bianca Marie:

That’s exactly right. That’s the difference between a positive experience and a negative experience that I’ve found, especially for those that are in the minority communities. She’s an African American as well. That being empowered and knowing that you have a choice and you’re not just at the mercy of everyone around you. That helps with relaxation, that helps with having peace and feeling in control.

Rebecca Dekker:

That helps the physiologic birth process. You’re working with so many families right now. I also saw that you’re a motherhood transformational coach. Could you talk a little bit about what that role is and how you fulfill that?

Bianca Marie:

Absolutely. One of the things that, you mentioned my degrees in the beginning and I actually also have a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning, focusing on community health and I’m working on my fourth, I know what I say, I going to be my last degree, which is actually a Doctorate in Trauma Counseling. That’s how I’m able to cooperate so many techniques and different theories into my practice as a doula. But in that also is as a motherhood transformation coach, that is really a title that I’ve coined, now coming from a public health standpoint, where people think of health, they traditionally think of physical health. “Oh, I can run up the stairs, so I’m healthy,” or “I can go for a bike ride, and so I’m healthy.” Whereas coming from a public health standpoint, public health lens is really your physical health, your social health, your emotional health, your financial health, all these other aspects of it makes a person actually healthy.

Bianca Marie:

Any of those pieces or awry or any of these pieces are not healthy, then that certainly can impact your physical health. That’s the lens that I come to and I look from when I’m working with moms. As a motherhood transformation coach, in that postpartum phase, I am working with moms and families on about their budget. I am working with them about career planning. Do they want to go back to work or do they want to work from home or do they want to do a transition within their careers or do they need any assistance with putting their requests into their company or to their office to say, “I want to modify the schedule.” Cause sometimes that’s a little scary for mums just to, “I don’t want to rock the boat, but I do need a little bit or attention in certain areas.”

Bianca Marie:

I don’t want to go back to my normal nine to five. Maybe I want to flex schedule or I want to work from home, total worker. Those are the sorts of things as a motherhood transformation coach, I’m working with the moms in all of the different areas of their life coming from a public health model, to make sure that they are healthy. Truly healthy, not just their physical health and their healing from the delivery, which certainly takes time. But there’s other aspects of the life that if they aren’t addressed other stressors, other external factors that if they’re not addressed, then that actually impacts their physical health and their ability to heal. As a motherhood transformation coach, we transform their lives in other areas to make sure that it’s a total transformation and they can transition into being the mother that they want to be.

Rebecca Dekker:

It’s really a holistic approach, looking at their whole life?

Bianca Marie:

That’s right.

Rebecca Dekker:

I love that. Tell us more about the Blooming Mama’s Wellness Institute. When did you found that and what does your institute do?

Bianca Marie:

It was after my daughter, my delivery experience with her is when I said, “I have to formalize this.” Before that, working for the federal government and still helping family and friends informally. But after that is when I said, “I believe that I have to put a formal package together, a form of program together to help moms,” cause it’s a journey, right? It’s not something overnight. It’s not just one class. It’s not just one conversation. It’s not one counseling session, it’s a journey. My institute, we offer programs and courses for families and moms, from everything from childbirth education courses, to counseling courses, to healthy eating, family planning, those basic courses. Also, offer courses for doulas. I believe that if you can help a doula or be empowered and knowledgeable, then that’s a rippling effect again, in a different way we’re able to help even more families.

Bianca Marie:

I am a coach for doulas, cause I do believe that as a doula, that you should be well rounded and be able to offer an array of services and be able to offer services that are of value to each family. Some components, your packages or your services may be similar, but I don’t believe that a one size fits all solution for families, especially now in the middle of the pandemic and COVID, we have different needs and different things that need to be addressed for families. Through the institute, you could find a merit of programs and services from, that help families and moms that are going through their pregnancy journey and then also for doulas. Not only have the sustainable and successful business, but to make sure that they’re providing the right value and they have the right skill set and education to be able to support families.

Rebecca Dekker:

That’s amazing. With the doulas, I noticed, one thing you talked about in your website is just that a lot of doulas don’t get business trainings that they can have a sustainable career. So you’re helping doulas with that as well.

Bianca Marie:

Cause that is a calling to be a dual in itself, but you’re very passionate and you didn’t want to practice as a doula and now you want to help with the delivery. You want to help with the postpartum care. But a piece of that, a lot of doulas don’t really get in a common or a typical doula certification program or training program, is that there is a business aspect of that. You need to have business systems, you need to have payroll correctly, invoicing, you need to have things in place. That way, you can have your mind, you’re at ease and you can actually focus on the practice part of being a doula.

Bianca Marie:

But you know how to do your taxes, you know what you need to do depending on your state laws, you need to know about professional liability insurance. There’s just common pieces that as an entrepreneur, that doulas need to make sure they have in place successfully. That’s one of the gaps that I’ve found with a lot of doulas. That’s one of the things that we feel and, one of my degrees is an MBA, so I do love business and governance. I say, if I can help the Federal Government manage a $3.7 billion portfolio, I can help a doula manage their business. That’s what I do as a doula business coach.

Rebecca Dekker:

I love that. I love that you are getting your doctorate and you can do trauma counseling and you have an MBA and you’ve got public health. Bianca Marie, you’re like the whole package, you’re doing it all. That is just incredible. I’d encourage people to check out your website. Can you tell everybody the name of the institute website?

Bianca Marie:

Absolutely. You could go to www bloomingmamaswellness.com and mamas is M A M A S. If I could, there’s one new initiative I’ve just started. I’m so excited about it, just started in June. And I also created a blooming birth worker platform. That is a virtual platform for doulas, lactation consultants and others who are in the birth working field, where you can join. At your fingertips is resources, information, reviews of everything from baby products to undergarments for pregnant women, videos and classes. We have masterclasses and we have workshops. Again, these are all for those that are in the birth worker field where this information is vetted. It’s right at your fingertips.

Bianca Marie:

One of the funny stories that I have is, one doula was doing a postpartum overnight visit the other day, and she said, “I had a question and I just went to our community to our platform and I looked it up and I saw a quick video about it and I was able to help the baby right away.” That is the purpose of this membership community, the virtual community that just started. It’s awesome. I’m very excited about it. Then I just want again, so it’s all about education and resources, so that we as those that are working in the birth worker field, can be the best that we can be to provide the best experience and value to the moms and families.

Rebecca Dekker:

All right. If you go to bloomingmamaswellness.com and you can find that by looking at the membership tab there.

Bianca Marie:

Yes. You can find about the courses you go to find about coaching, you can find about the membership community as well on that website.

Rebecca Dekker:

Bianca Marie, thank you so much for sharing your story. I also wanted to talk a little bit about new ways parents can get virtual support in pregnancy, labor and postpartum. Now that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, things have changed in terms of who can be with you in person, both during labor and after the birth. Can you talk a little bit about how you are helping parents get more support?

Bianca Marie:

Absolutely. One of the things that I just kept hearing from parents was like, “Do I need a doula? Can I have a doula? What do I do if I have to go to the hospital by myself,” cause their just depending on the state and the region and the hospital, is just so many different policies you have to keep up with. The very first recommendation I have for families that are in the midst of a pregnancy and I have a delivery soon is one, chat and make sure you are aware of the hospital policies. They change, pretty much on a daily basis. And the websites aren’t always updated right away. Actually calling the hospital and talking to someone is actually probably the best way to get the most up to dated information. But be empowered and know that you still can get support from a doula virtually or a family member virtually.

Bianca Marie:

You can ask to make sure you have your iPad. I always say, try to have two different devices, or follow-in an iPad. If one goes down, one drops and breaks, anything of that nature, you want to make sure you have a backup, but doulas right now, especially those that are part of my network and my community were getting trained as to how to help virtually from everything, from how to help with not only coaching the mother, but coaching that support person, that’s there with the mother and pain coping techniques, being able to visually look and say, adjust this, adjust there, try this birthing position, or try that birth in position, or did you ask this question of that? Even though, you may be in a unique experience in the midst of COVID where you’re not able to have everyone that you will want to have in the room, just know that virtually you still can get support from a doula who is trained specifically in helping virtually to make sure that you have the best experience possible.

Bianca Marie:

If you don’t have a doula, you can certainly still try to get support from somebody in your family virtually as well. If you have questions about something or intervention or treatment or something that one of the medical staff members asked, then whoever you have connected virtually have them google it, have them do a little research or have them make a phone call to the trusted advisor of your family or friends and be able to help you translate and understand exactly what your options are. I just want to recommend it, just to make sure that all mothers and families out there know that even in the midst of all these changes, do know that you still can be empowered by reaching out to a virtual doula.

Rebecca Dekker:

I think your advice about having several devices in case one goes down, having backup ways to charge devices is important. I like your idea of having a trusted family advisor on call, because most situations, a vast majority of clinical situations in labor and birth are not emergencies. Even though there might be presented as, we need to do this right now, you can always ask, is this urgent? Is this a minutes count emergency? If it’s not, you have to do your research, like you said.

Bianca Marie:

That’s right. If you don’t know, simply ask.

Rebecca Dekker:

And what about postpartum?

Bianca Marie:

Postpartum is interesting, but it’s actually fun. Even in the midst of this, I’m able to still do postpartum care and others. One example of postpartum being able to assist certainly is something with breastfeeding or nursing, as long as you’re able to see what you’re doing, we still can provide assistance that way. Some suggestions might have even helped families with meal planning and getting meals or smoothies delivered to their homes. We could still help with the nutrition aspect of it. There’s even one of my clients that I’m just like, “I just want to get out of the house. I feel like the walls are coming in on me.” I’ve actually started a service where I do drive by. When their postpartum care, postpartum visit, and that is where I’ll be at the end of their driveway, they’ll be at their front porch.

Bianca Marie:

Certainly. We have the distance, but it just gives the mom an opportunity to step out the house, have adult conversation. If they feel like they’re only talking to the kids and so forth, but just a few minutes where they can step out of their house, and we talk from the driveway or from the front porch or wherever we need to. Where I am able to connect with them and see them physically. It’s just a few minutes of fresh air that they can get. Postpartum care, there are still many options, whereas the doula can help you virtually as well.

Rebecca Dekker:

I like your idea of the driveway visit. I actually had a friend who they were freshly postpartum and I guess we were the first people, they did a driveway visit and they actually came to our house. I think they were feeling pretty cooped up. They came to where we live and parked in the driveway and we sat safe distance apart and got to see their baby and the baby seated in the car seat. But it was really nice. I could tell the connection, that in-person connection means a lot, even if you can’t get close up and personal.

Bianca Marie:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Just make it work for you, whatever you need to do, make it work for you. So that I host a mom meet up and it was three moms that had their delivery, had their baby, within a short time frame, all of them, very similar. At the Starbucks, a local Starbucks, they meet and they meet, I think it’s like nine or nine 30 once a week. They just talk from their cars, but they’re able to show their baby, the baby stays in the car, but it was a way for them to connect, to get out the house. Somewhere they can go, is it safe? They just meet in the parking lot and they exchange stories, as new moms, all of their babies are under three months old. It’s a matter of just finding what works for you and know that there’s some options out there for you. You’re not alone.

Rebecca Dekker:

Bianca Marie and has been such a pleasure talking with you. Is there anything I can help you with? Do you have any questions for me?

Bianca Marie:

No, I am so honored and appreciative of you having this podcast and the platform that you have and the work that you do. Cause I do believe that it’s going to take a village of us in order to help the changes and help families know and be empowered of research, empowered of data and empowered with their choices. I just appreciate you for this platform and the work that you do.

Rebecca Dekker:

Thank you, Bianca Marie, we can continue doing that work for a long time to come. Making that research accessible for you and your clients.

Bianca Marie:

Yes. Thank you so much.

Rebecca Dekker:

Thank you, Bianca Marie. All right, everyone. That was a wonderful interview with Bianca Marie Robertson. You can follow Bianca Marie’s work on Instagram and Facebook at the official Bianca Marie.

Rebecca Dekker:

Today’s podcast episode was brought to you by the online workshops for birth professionals taught by Evidence Based Birth® instructors. We have an amazing group of EDB instructors from around the world who can provide you with live interactive continuing education workshops that are fully online. We designed savvy birth pro workshops to help birth professionals who are feeling stressed by the limitations of the healthcare system. Our instructors also teach the popular comfort measures for birth professionals and labor and delivery nurses workshop. If you are a nurse or birth professional who wants instruction in massage, upright birthing positions, acupressure for pain relief and more, you will love the comfort measures workshop, visit evbirth.com/events to find a list of upcoming online workshops.

 

Listening to this podcast is an Australian College of Midwives CPD Recognised Activity.

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