In this week’s episode I interview Dr. Alyssa Berlin, a clinical psychologist specializing in pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting. She is also creator of the AfterBirth Plan Workshop, a program preparing couples for a physically and emotionally healthy postpartum transition – for the baby, for each partner, and for their evolving relationships. Dr. Berlin has specific expertise working with emotional concerns that may arise before, during, or after birth. She and her husband, Dr. Elliot Berlin, are the co-founders of the Berlin Wellness Group, and are proud parents to four children.
Dr. Berlin offers practical analogies to help put postpartum in perspective as a human experience, as well as strategies for anticipation and prevention of emotional and situational triggers. We also talk about the importance of postpartum doulas and other professional and personal supporters.
- Follow Dr. Alyssa Berlin on Instagram at @dralyssaberlin
- Learn about the AfterBirth Plan Workshop here
- Connect with the Berlin Wellness Group on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and at doctorberlin.com.
- Find Episode 85 of the Evidence Based Birth Podcast with parent Ashely Smith on iTunes (here), Spotify (here), and Stitcher (here).
For more information and news about Evidence Based Birth , visit www.ebbirth.com.
View the transcript
Rebecca: Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast we’re going to talk with Dr. Alyssa Berlin about how to have an easier transition to postpartum. 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 ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details.
Rebecca: Hi, everyone. Today I’m so excited to welcome Dr. Alyssa Berlin to The Evidence Based Birth Podcast. Dr. Berlin is a clinical psychologist specializing in pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting. Dr. Berlin is also the creator of The After Birth Plan, a program that prepares couples for what to expect after a baby’s born and how to prepare for a physically and emotionally healthy postpartum transition for the baby, for each partner, and for the evolving relationship. Dr Berlin has a specific expertise working with trauma, addressing anxiety, fear, or any other emotional concerns that may arise around having a baby before, during, and after the birth. Dr. Alyssa and her husband Dr. Elliot Berlin are the cofounders of The Berlin Wellness Group. Together, they are the proud parents of four amazing kids. Welcome, Dr. Berlin to The Evidence Based Birth Podcast.
Alyssa: Thanks, Rebecca. It’s so nice to be here.
Rebecca: So tell us, how did you get into specializing in the psychology of pregnancy, postpartum and parenting?
Alyssa: It’s so interesting because I feel like I got into it the way many of us who work in this birth space got into it, which is I started having kids and I took my background in working with women’s health in psychology and then segued into what were the things I felt like they were missing as Elliot and I started our family, and the one gaping hole seem to be preparing for postpartum.
Rebecca: So what kind of holes were there? What were you not prepared for when you entered postpartum?
Alyssa: Well, I feel like people did a really good job of telling you that you’re never going to sleep again. I felt like people did a good job of telling you or helping to guide you about how to make a really great birth plan and to think about labor and delivery, doulas, hospitals versus home, midwife versus doctor. And then it seemed like you skipped a gear and it was just all about what cute paraphernalia did I want for baby or what stroller was I going to feel most proud walking down the street with him. But there was actually very little spoken about regarding well, now that this little person has joined your life, what does that mean? What does that look like? And specifically how is it going to impact your relationship with your partner? And that was something that Elliot and I were both not prepared for.
Alyssa: And so it was actually after baby number two that I had found some specialized training in preparing for after baby. And I grabbed my birth doula, who at that point became a part of the family, and we went out to Colorado and we started to more deeply delve into this space of recognizing that there’s actually a lot you could do to prepare for postpartum. I feel like the line that people would tell you historically is, well, there’s no parenting manual, so you kind of just have to jump in and see how it goes. And although there may not be an official parenting manual, there’s so much research in the field that is out there and accessible to really help guide couples to have a smoother transition, how not to fall prey to the statistic that two thirds of couples are going to experience as a client in their relationship satisfaction when they have a baby.
Rebecca: Wow. So there’s actually statistics on relationship satisfaction showing that two thirds of couples are less satisfied with their relationship?
Alyssa: Oh, tremendously. There’s actually a number of statistics that kind of talk about this general phase of life. We find that 50% of relationships break up within the first seven years. Normally, or what we have discovered, is often times that precipitating factor of the catalyst is a birth of a child, and then yeah, like we said, two thirds of couples experience a decline in their relationship satisfaction after baby.
Rebecca: Why do you think that is and why do you think some people experience a decline and others don’t?
Alyssa: So all really good questions, and I think there’s a lot to be gained from looking at the one third who didn’t experience that decline. When we look at what goes into an adjustment across the board, one major component is expectations, and if we look at the Hallmark Instagram version of what parenting is about, well then we’re setting up people to expect that having a baby is all puppies and unicorns and rainbows and butterflies, and then when it gets challenging or it somehow deviates from that, people feel like they were fed a false bill of goods or they wonder what’s wrong with them that they’re not experiencing the bliss that either they were promised or was kind of presented for them as the norm.
Rebecca: I see that following a lot of influencers and celebrities on Instagram, more often than not they tend to post these really glowing pictures and everybody looks super happy and content, but the reality is a lot of them are probably suffering and they’re just not talking about that.
Alyssa: Absolutely, and it’s the kind of thing where I feel like it’s usually a few months out that these celebrities will come out and talk about their real story. I remembered Meghan Markle came out a couple of weeks or a couple of months ago and her big take home was this element of no one ever asked me if I was okay, and the underlying component being that she wasn’t feeling okay.
Alyssa: But yeah, but no one talks about the sweats that come with pregnancy. You glow during pregnancy. No one talks about the challenges of breastfeeding. It’s purported as this natural beautiful bonding moment, which it is, but it’s also important for women to recognize that for a good number of people, it’s one of the hardest aspects of that transition to parenthood. So I joke all the time that the title of my first book is going to be “You’re More Than a Pair of Boobs” because there are such emotionally-laden elements in postpartum, one of them being breastfeeding, that we hang our hat on, that determines from our own perspective whether we see ourselves as a success or a failure, and navigating breastfeeding smoothly is one of those pieces. But I want women to know that they’re more than a pair of boobs, and a happy, healthy mom matters.
Rebecca: So let’s talk about the people you see in your practice who are either prenatal or postpartum. What are some of the mental health conditions they’re struggling with aside from relationship dissatisfaction?
Alyssa: Sure. Well, and my whole platform, and what I try to do is I try to work with couples during pregnancy, so I ideally like to work with couples during the second trimester. I am starting a one-woman revolution of getting 28 weeks pregnancy, 28 weeks gestation to be our postpartum check-in week, and I think that there’s a lot of value to be gained if we can get all Obs, midwives, medical practitioners to collectively agree at 28 weeks across the board unilaterally we’re going to check in and help people prepare for postpartum, help them understand and navigate accurate expectations, what are the pitfalls to avoid, what are the things that they can do to help maintain their relationship with their partner in an effort to avoid being a part of that two-thirds statistic?
Alyssa: So first and foremost, my goal is prevention whenever we can. When that’s not feasible, there’s a lot of things that we see either during pregnancy or postpartum, and Rebecca, I love that you said that because the depression and anxiety that we see in this time period for some women actually will start during pregnancy often in that third trimester.
Alyssa: So what do we see? We see a lot of things. Probably topping the list is a sense of feeling overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the changes in their body, overwhelmed by the enormity of what it means to be a parent and the responsibility and the additional things that have to get done as a result. I see a lot of women struggling in particular with their sense of self. Who am I now that I’m a mom? Do I get to hold onto all of those old roles that used to make me happy or define me or am I meant to abandon them all and now mom is meant to be my only role?
Alyssa: Other things that I think become problematic is things that we would do in our lives before babies that we saw as important self care very quickly get shifted into what now feel selfish because aren’t I meant to want to be with my baby 24/7, and if I don’t, what does that mean? So there’s a whole host of different things that we see that happens, and that’s not including the actual depression and anxiety and the constellation of mood and anxiety disorders that we see cropping up in this time period.
Rebecca: So tell us, then, it sounds like you’re really focused on prevention and it reminds me of, we had Krysta Dancy who’s one of our EBB instructors and a therapist in California came on to talk about birth trauma and she said she felt like she was at the end of this receiving line or factory assembly line where these traumatized people just kept falling into her practice and she really wanted to switch to the prevention side. It sounds like that’s what you’re focused on. So what are some of the strategies you use to help prevent these mental health problems?
Alyssa: Sure. And Rebecca, I like just to be clear, I work on both sides. Prevention is definitely my passion because if we could avoid having women or couples or new families have to step into it before they step out, why wouldn’t we want to do that? But when necessary, I have an extensive background in working with that trauma, both from a sematic experiencing as well as an EMDR perspective.
Alyssa: But in terms of prevention, there’s a couple of things. One thing is I think that education is key, that being informed, knowing what to expect, being able to walk in with our eyes wide open is tremendously helpful, and the pitfalls of postpartum are not as unpredictable as we think. The truth is that when you spend enough time talking to couples the way that I do, these patterns start to present themselves, and it then creates an opportunity to alert couples of what they are, how to recognize when they’ve kind of been added or joined the show, and then what to do to mitigate or to avoid them. So education is a huge component.
Alyssa: I think another important component is to recognize that any bumps and bruises that existed within the relationship before baby are likely to become exacerbated after baby. And so I’ll talk a lot of times about baby shines a spotlight on whatever those bumps or bruises were before, and now they bring them kind of center stage and it’s much harder to bypass the way we might used to. And so pregnancy is a wonderful time to work on the relationship, enhancing communication. If we’ve never figured out a system at home about how to get chores done or how to make sure that the house runs successfully, this is a wonderful time to look at it and to explore that. It’s also a time of personal introspection because again, having a baby cause a lot of ourselves into question. And so if we were to take advantage of the energy that pregnancy offers, what is it about ourselves that maybe is somewhat distressing that could use some attention or some nurturing that’ll help mitigate the likelihood that it’ll come back with a vengeance postpartum?
Alyssa: So those are some of the things that I think can be really helpful. And in the workshop I kind of lay out some different anchors of how to keep both the individual and the couple feeling strong and intact, and I’m a big believer that these are things that help any relationship and that things that we want to be practicing during pregnancy if they accidentally fell to the wayside. Because the more practice we have under our belt, the more just smooth and just consistently it’ll fall in after baby. So I’ll tell people all the time we don’t wait for the fire to be blazing to say, “Gosh, how am I going to get out of the building? I should really have a fire drill.” It’s something that we have in place before and it’s something that we practice so that when the fire does hit, it becomes rote and it’s something that there’s not a lot of thinking involved to go in and doing what we need.
Rebecca: So do you feel like typical practice today, most pregnant expecting couples are not getting this kind of education at that 28-week mark that you’re recommending?
Alyssa: Absolutely not, and I think in general, kind of the general feel in society is we need to wait until those fires are blazing to figure out what we want to do. I mean, just as we’re using the analogy of fires, I hope that everyone is safe with whatever fires are going on in LA on that mindset, so our heart goes out to those people, but I think in general we’re more crisis-oriented and we’re not very prevention-oriented.
Rebecca: So what are some of those pitfalls? You mentioned that you can predict some major things that are going to upset the relationship or cause discord.
Alyssa: So I think off the get-go, one of the big ones is entering what I call the baby vortex, and we go into that baby vortex where we become so focused on baby oftentimes that the exclusion of our partner either because we’re so absorbed in just our love for baby and the coziness and the yumminess or we go into that baby vortex because we feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking care of baby that it’s hard to fathom doing anything else.
Alyssa: The problem is, though, is when we become so overly focused on baby to the exclusion of our partner, the relationship with our partner really does struggle. So when I think about relationships, I often liken them to walking up a down escalator. So let’s think about that. Put in a little bit of effort, you’ll make some headway. Put in more effort, you’ll make more headway. But the second you stop climbing, that escalator’s just naturally going to bring you down and farther apart. It’s the same with relationships. The second we stop actively investing in that relationship, well, the responsibility and the stress of life just naturally brings us down and can create this distance between partners. Having a baby speeds up that escalator, so we can see the challenge of getting stuck in the baby vortex becoming so absorbed in baby that we lose sight of our partner coupled with the fact that our escalator has sped up, and so our relationship with our partner is needing more, but now it’s getting less.
Alyssa: So that’s one pitfall. Another pitfall is that we forget to have fun, that again we become so overwhelmed with what has to get done that it becomes all business all the time, and instead of finding ways to poke fun or do it together or laugh, we become too serious for our own good. So I can tell you my oldest son who’s now 15 came home from the hospital in the towel. Why? Because we didn’t know what we were doing and within our culture you don’t prepare a lot before baby comes. So baby arrived and Elliot went to the store to get what he thought was receiving blankets, picked up something with a hood, but it was a towel. And we’re sitting there in that hospital room trying to swaddle our baby. And these nurses are giggling and snickering on the side saying, “It’s a towel, guys.” So again, here’s one of those moments where easily we could’ve looked at each other and been like, “I can’t believe you brought a towel,” or it could be like, “This is hysterical. Typical new parents trying to bring our baby home in a towel.” And I could tell you years later we made a quilt of all his baby clothing, and that towel is prominently centered in the middle of that quilt because if ever there was an indication of where we started, that was it.
Alyssa: So having fun, trying not to take things too seriously, really going with the max. And the third pitfall to me is the pseudo-sense of team that we create that really misses the mark and the essence of what a team is about. So imagine a baseball field and imagine you know someone in the outfield caught a ball. Great. Everyone’s happy. And imagine the next fly ball came to that same player, but instead of that player grabbing it and catching it like he did before, this time he’s standing on the field and his mitt is by his side and he lets that ball to the ground and the other players went over to him and they’re like, “Hey, dude. What did you just do?” He’s like, “Well, what do you mean? I caught the last ball. This ball was your turn.”
Alyssa: And how often we see that playing out with new families where you’ll hear a couple say what I call the daily diaper tally of, “I changed five diapers. It’s your turn to change five diapers.” And they’re coming at it from the perspective of, “Aren’t we a great team? You do 50/50. I do 50/50. You change a diaper. I change a diaper.” But it doesn’t work on the ball field and it doesn’t work after baby because the true energy and essence of a team is you have a free hand and you grab it, and even if it means that that ball comes to you two, three, four times in a row, you have a free hand, then you grab it.
Rebecca: Hmm. Interesting.
Alyssa: What are you thinking?
Rebecca: I’m just trying to, it’s just bringing back memories of my postpartum and I don’t think that we had any decline in relationship satisfaction between Dan and I. I’m trying to imagine. I can see these kinds of arguments happening, though, in terms of feeling just not being happy with your partner because you feel like they’re not doing their fair share.
Rebecca: And I think one of the major problems in the United States at least is the lack of paid leave for partners, so paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave. Basically partners don’t, aren’t guaranteed anything, and I have had so many friends, partners went back to work the second day postpartum, the third day postpartum. They get less time off for having a baby than they would for Thanksgiving, and I can see how that creates a lot of resentment. I think that’s the word I was thinking of, but it’s not like it’s the partner’s fault or the birthing person’s fault, but just the fault of our society and not supporting this. And there’s a lot of research coming out about how supporting partners and giving them paid leave benefits the health of everybody else in the family.
Alyssa: I couldn’t agree more. It’s so huge. And boy, do you put it into context when you framed it as they get more time for Thanksgiving than they do to have a baby. That is such a stark contrast, and I agree with you. And you know what’s even more is we need to change the culture where paternity leave is more of a given, recognizing the importance of supporting this new family unit because it’s an experience that impacts the family unit. We also need to change the culture where it’s acceptable for men to take that paternity leave and it’s not seen as less than, of, “Well, real men don’t take paternity leave.” Yeah, they do because real men recognize the importance of supporting their family and helping, like you said, birthing and non-birthing partners and babies and everyone have this smoothest transition into this new phase of life.
Alyssa: And support is key all around. Support for every part of that family. And it’s interesting because a lot of times we talk about the village breaking down. I think less than the village breaking down? The face of the village is changing. We’re kind of in Village 2.0 where the virtual village is a big part of it and instead of it being aunties or uncles or family, now in a lot of ways we’re looking at friends and paid support, but how crucial it is for everyone to have that support and to redefine what their village looks like and then take steps to put that in place.
Rebecca: Yeah, and I think for our listeners who want to hear an example of the power of having paternity leave or partner leave, just check out episode 85 of The Evidence Based Birth Podcast. We talked with Ashley Smith about her experience giving birth to twins and how long she and her partner had after the birth time off together and how peaceful and beautiful their postpartum experience was with twins, which you would think would be really difficult, but because she had a partner there with her, it made all the difference in the world. And I know that’s not a possibility for everyone, but it’s just an example of what it could be like if we truly as a society made this priority.
Alyssa: Everything’s better with support. Everything’s better when we feel appreciated and seen. When we feel appreciated, it’s like we sprout wings and fly. There’s nothing that we can’t do, and like you said, that’s incredible. I can’t wait to listen to that episode myself, but also to really encourage people that for whatever reason if it can’t be a partner or there’s not a partner in the picture, to think about what that Plan B or C is. I am a big believer that when we have a baby, every new baby comes with two new best friends, creativity and flexibility. And so maybe it’s not the traditional picture, but how can we be creative and flexible and still making sure you’re getting those needs, and a need for support is across the board. It’s a primal need that we all have.
Rebecca: Yeah, and I would love to see more research on postpartum doula support in those crucial postpartum weeks. I know that we have a lot of postpartum doulas who listened to The Evidence Based Birth Podcast and I’ve heard plenty of people say how important that was to them to have that postpartum doula, but it’s just not being prioritized by researchers, so we’re not seeing a lot of data or statistics about the importance. Because in other countries they have nurses come visit you at home and we don’t have that in the United States.
Rebecca: Although I know when I was in nursing school, one of my assignments each semester was to make a home visit on a client I took care of in the hospital, and in my OB rotation I had the privilege of being able to visit a client that I took care of on the postpartum unit on mother-baby. And I went to their home afterwards and they were so excited to have me there to talk with them about the birth and their experience and about how they were doing. And I mean, by all means I didn’t have a ton of training, I was still just a student, but the way their faces lit up and they were so excited to see me and so content and they had all these questions for me, it just showed me it was such a powerful moment. It’s such a critical moment in parents’ lives, and to have people coming to your home to actually care about you and check on you is something that’s important. Not people to just come hold the baby and take a picture, but to actually focus on you and your needs.
Alyssa: Right. Which is such a beautiful nod to partners that are listening, family that’s listening, friends that are listening, that at our core we’re social beings and that social contact is unbelievable in how deeply it impacts us and letting us know that we’re not alone and that there are people out there that really care. And Rebecca, you said it beautifully in terms of don’t feel like you have to have anything magnanimous to say. Just come. Just be that smiling face. Be someone who’s happy to listen and to be supportive. How often do women in particular after their birth want to talk about their birth story or are verbally processing what happens? And for friends and family to know what a great service you can offer by just listening, by being supportive, that it really goes such a long way.
Rebecca: So I know you have workshops that people can access at doctorberlin.com, and that’s doctor spelled all the way out, doctorberlin.com, but I was wondering if you could share with us maybe one strategy or technique that you teach in your workshops to just give us like some helpful tips for parents who are is.
Alyssa: Sure, Rebecca, and again, for people to know that the workshop, I do it live in California, I do it virtually online, and actually over the holiday weekend we’re getting ready to create a self-paced version that people can do online by themselves, so lots of really nice opportunities of how to do it.
Alyssa: But yeah, one strategy that I like to talk to people about is what I call date moments. And so first and foremost, it’s the notion that dating is something that should be a lifelong experience. So just because you’re in a committed relationship, it doesn’t mean the dating stops. We want to keep dating. I also like for people to know that when it comes to having a baby pregnancy and postpartum, I’m not a big fan of date night, and here’s why. Anything that competes with sleep is doomed to fail. We’ll all have the best of intentions. 8:00 will roll around, babysitter’s going to be at the door, and we’re going to look at each other and we’re going to say, “Timmy goes for his long stretch of sleep right now, so we could go out for a dinner or we could sleep,” and it’s like why do we want to set dating up to have to go up against the big guns of sleep?
Alyssa: So let’s forget date night and instead let’s move into date moments. And a date moment is any time during the week, ideally morning or afternoon if we can swing it, and weekends are helpful, that we spend an hour or two focused on each other, recharging the batteries of the relationship. What does that mean? It means that areas of contention are off limits. Otherwise, who’s going to want to do date moments, if as soon as we have that date moment, it’s like, “Well, I finally have you all to myself, so let me tell you what I’ve been thinking right now.” So off limits. Save that for another moment.
Alyssa: And the other thing to keep in mind about date moments is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It doesn’t even have to require that you leave the house. A date moment could be a picnic in the living room. Maybe you do mud masks in the bathroom. Maybe you’re a couple who really enjoyed cooking together and haven’t had a moment to share the kitchen in a long time. Maybe you know you do your own version of paint night and you buy some canvases and paints and you paint at the kitchen table. You are only limited by your imagination and those two new best friends of creativity and flexibility.
Alyssa: What I love about date moments is that it ensures that no more than seven days ever goes by without having a moment to charge the batteries of the relationship, and I usually task the non-birthing partner to be the one to plan it the first six to eight weeks after baby is born, and then just check in with the birthing partner and see if they’re ready to join the ranks. But if not, non-birthing partner, you’re still on the hook for planning it. In time, you guys can take turns, but that’s something that really works as a wonderful anchor within the week as well as within the relationship postpartum.
Rebecca: Yeah, I love that idea of calling it date moments, and I know that in our postpartum periods of me and Dan, we had a lot of those, and I’ll just give some examples of what they were, low cost or free. We do a lot of back rubs in our family. That’s just kind of a thing. Back rubs, neck rubs. One person sits on the floor and gets the neck rub and then we switch turns. We also did a lot of walks with our baby and that was just kind of nice gentle exercise where we could just connect with each other without devices. Watching a movie, having a home movie night or show was fun. And then we did a lot of lunch dates. I know you talked about avoiding evenings because you’re tired but we would meet for lunch or a lot of times we would take the baby with us on a date because the baby would usually sleep through the date and in the early weeks or we would get a sitter to be able to go out for lunch.
Rebecca: But I think one thing I’ve noticed is I have had quite a few friends and acquaintances who seem to be reluctant to bring a babysitter into their home or family, and Dan and I have really strong feelings about that, that you need to be comfortable handing your child off to someone because I know some people who have never had a babysitter in seven years of parenting, and I just feel like you have to get away with your partner without a child and you need to expect that and plan for that and say, “I am going to commit to finding, trusting someone, finding someone I can trust to sit my child so that I can do stuff alone with my partner.”
Alyssa: Yep. No arguments here. And something that I like to recommend, especially in those early days is, you were talking, Rebecca, about postpartum doulas, and sometimes postpartum doulas are a really nice liaison before you’re ready for perhaps a full-on babysitter or nanny, of here’s someone who is coming in with a tremendous amount of postpartum and infant and newborn expertise. It’s also someone who’s not likely to be bothered if you call and check in a whole bunch of times because this is a new experience for you. So a postpartum doula can be a really nice bridge into getting your feet wet and feeling comfortable leaving baby before segueing into a nanny or babysitter. And if there is family around that you trust and that are willing, they could be another great resource to tap into, but I couldn’t agree more that that time am alone is so important to charge the batteries of the relationship.
Alyssa: And it’s something that you want to know. Date moments are not something that you’re doing to your kids. Quite the contrary. It’s something you’re doing for your kids, that they are the direct recipients of that loving, warm relationship that you’re creating, and it feeds their sense of safety and attachments and their emotional development. So maybe we can even kind of switch the thinking around it and really help give people permission and to feel good about doing those date moments. It’s not something you’re taking away from your kids. It’s truly a gift you’re giving your kids.
Rebecca: Oh, yeah. And when our kids got old enough, they started complaining about date night or dates. Dan and I, we had the same party line every time. “Look. You want your parents to be happy together, right? This is really important for us to get time alone without kids, and it makes your lives happier because we’ll be better parents to you,” and then they get it. But yeah, you’re right. I mean, but it’s true. You have to take care of that relationship if you want to maintain it and sustain it, so great advice.
Alyssa: But it’s funny Rebecca, because we’re in that kind of section now as our kids are segueing into teenagers. We’re getting a lot of that outward protesting at any signs of physical affection or dating. But I even want listeners to know it’s outward protest but it’s internal comfort because especially as they’re seeing friends around them whose parents may not be together, there’s this internal sense of comfort and confidence that I know that I’m safe because my parents do prioritize that relationship. So people should know that. It’s outward protest. It’s internal comfort.
Rebecca: Yeah. And what words of advice or wisdom do you have for people who are not partnered at this time, who are self-partnered or for whatever reason don’t have that other person?
Alyssa: Sure. And I go back to that notion of creativity and flexibility. Find your people. We all have people, we all need people, and let’s just be creative about we are in how we access those resources. Friends, surrogate aunties. If it is feasible, some hired help or support. Mommy and Me groups can be a wonderful way to even connect with other friends or other people in a similar situation. And I was always a big proponent of the baby share. So maybe one morning a week I take the two babies or the three kiddos and then maybe a different morning you take all the kids, and how, again, we find that support or that Village 2.0 because we need it. No person was ever meant to be an island, and raising kids is a collaborative experience.
Rebecca: Exactly, and I think, too, we talked about time with partner, but even time alone is important as well. Time to just step outside and take a few breaths or take a shower without somebody crying for your attention. So time alone, time with partner, time with other people, and creating that community.
Alyssa: Yeah, for sure. I mean that’s crazy talk. A shower without someone outside? That’s … I’m just kidding. Yeah, no, but I couldn’t agree more. To me, self care is we’re really taking care of four elements. We’re taking care of birthing partner, non-birthing partner, the couple, and then the family. And these are the four elements we want to make sure is that play or has gotten some special quality time in the course of each week.
Rebecca: So Dr. Berlin, thank you so much. Do you have any final words of advice or wisdom to close out this episode?
Alyssa: Sure. I really want listeners to know that they can have it all. They could have a warm, cozy relationship with baby and their partner and a flourishing life. They can have it all.
Rebecca: So it’s not all hopeless and depressing to think about having a baby, but you really can flourish in that postpartum period-
Rebecca: … with preparation and support.
Alyssa: That’s it. 28 weeks. Make sure that we do that prep. Come look me up to do a workshop and we’re going to make sure that you have everything you need in place to really enjoy that next phase of life.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for all of the wisdom you shared with us, Dr. Berlin. How can people get in touch with you or follow you on social media?
Alyssa: Thank you. You can find me on Instagram. Dr Alyssa Berlin. Rebecca, you also gave our very interesting web address. We like to keep it interesting, so it’s doctor spelled out, doctorberlin.com is another wonderful way to find me.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Alyssa: Thank you for having me, Rebecca. This was lovely.
Rebecca: Today’s podcast was brought to you by The Savvy Birth Workshops developed by Evidence Based Birth. We have an amazing group of more than 150 evidence-based birth instructors who are teaching Savvy Birth workshops all around the world. I designed the Savvy Birth Workshops to help parents who have to give birth and an imperfect healthcare system. Then professionals started asking for workshops to help them, too, so we created The Savvy Birth Pro Workshop to help professionals, doulas, childbirth educators, nurses, and others who feel stressed by the limitations of the healthcare system their clients are facing. If you want to figure out how you can get better care, even if you’re giving birth in a broken system, then these workshops are for you. Visit directory.evidencebasedbirth.com to find out if there’s an instructor in your area, and you can also find a list of our upcoming workshops for parents and pros by going to evidencebasedbirth.com/events.
Listening to this podcast is an Australian College of Midwives CPD Recognised Activity.
Stay empowered, read more :
Welcome! Over at ImprovingBirth.org’s blog, I discussed how I wrote this 2012 Labor Day post about the State of Evidence-based maternity care in the U.S. I also posted an updated table about the state of maternity care. I was actually sick on Labor Day. I was lying in...