Liz Talks, Episode 36: Interview with Doula & Birth Plan advocate Elizabeth Joy Presta

Elizabeth Joy (@esandoz on IG) is a mom, doula, and birth plan advocate who is passionate about birth options, consent, and supporting parents through this extraordinary time with compassion AND an eye for the science around birth options. 

Liz Talks Episode 36

  • Introducing our guest, Elizabeth Joy Presta [3:15]
  • This phase of life [12:22]
  • Work as a doula [18:04]
  • Hospital versus home [30:52]
  • Birth plan [42:06]

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Liz Talks. I’m Liz, and I’m a nutritional therapy practitioner and best-selling author; but here, I’m 0% professional and 100% mom, spouse, friend, and over-analyzer. We’re going to talk food, beauty, family, fitness, mental health, friendship, marriage, and everything in between in this season of Liz Talks, and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride.

Remember; this is a podcast about thoughts, feelings, and opinions. And I definitely do not give individual, personal, or medical advice. 

This is episode 36, topic: Liz Talks to Elizabeth Joy Presta; birth doula and host of the Miraculous Mamas podcast. 

In case you missed it, last weeks’ episode 35, I talked about husband, and exercise; mommy wine culture, and more. 

Before I begin this podcast, I want to quickly thank Arrowhead Mills for their generous sponsorship. I use their pancake mix, their gluten-free flours, and even their cereals on the regular. Yes; cereal has made a comeback in my house. I don’t know if that’s bad or good, but it’s reality. And my tastebuds certainly like it, especially with some raw milk over the top. You can find Arrowhead Mills products on Vitacost.com or at your local health food store. If you give it a try, definitely tag me on Instagram @RealFoodLiz. I’d love to see what you come up with. 

I also want to remind you about an affiliate that I absolutely love, and that’s Vibrant Body Company. Please do not keep wearing a bra that is uncomfortable and restrictive and blocks your lymph flow and makes you sad because it is awful. Go to Www.RealFoodLiz.com/Vibrant, and use cod LIZ15, all caps, for 15% off their comfortable, no wire, certified clean bra. They have a buttery soft shelfy tank, which I wear all the time. And their super comfortable underwear, including their thong. Which; I’m sorry. I know you don’t need to hear this from me multiple times over multiple episodes, but I am team thong, and their thong is the best thong of all time. 

So trust me. I used to be all sports bras all the time. But I actually finally swapped that out for a real bra, and I’m never going back. So www.RealFoodLiz.com/Vibrant. You will find these bras so comfortable, so functional, and so perfectly constructed for your body. I am a convert, and I know you will be too. 

Ok, today I am so excited to speak with Elizabeth Joy Presta. She is a birth doula, a prenatal coach, and a podcaster at the Miraculous Mamas podcast, which you can find on Instagram @MiraculousMamas. This is a podcast I was fortunate enough to be on recently, and it was really fun. 

Elizabeth has two kiddos, and she practices in the Chicago area. And she also; and this is very important. She has a TV quotes highlight on her Instagram feed, and I have a movie quotes highlight on my feed. So we were clearly destined to do a podcast together. 

So, we’re going to talk about her history and background. We’re going to talk about her work as a doula. Why birth plans are so important. And we’ll round the conversation out with some talk about her training as a bereavement doula. 

  • Introducing our guest, Elizabeth Joy Presta [3:15]

Liz Wolfe: So, I was at; I think, I say the other day, but this was probably like 4 weeks ago. This is just how my brain works. I don’t have any concept of time. But I actually; I had this meeting on the calendar, and it had to be rescheduled like twice. It was actually really important. And I just; it just fell out of my head. And in my head, I was looking at my calendar, and I saw what time it was, but for some reason in my head I was convinced it was like 30 minutes after the hours instead of right on the hour. And unfortunately, lost that entire opportunity. It was not rescheduled {laughs}. It’s like; you know, that’s just what happens to me. A little bit too often. But I’m glad we worked it out. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah, no, for sure. With podcasting; I’ve only no-showed one time. I’ve been podcasting since 2018, so this is my fourth year. So I’ve only no-showed one time. And it was somebody who I really wanted on, and I had even confirmed it. I was like; yeah, it’s Thursday at noon. Yes. And then in my head, I went to go see a friend, who lives like an hour away. And it was just a different completely; it was a different day. In my head. And I completely missed it. And yeah, she never rebooked with me. So. {laughing} 

Liz Wolfe: Oh god. It’s so sad. Did she have kids? Did she understand all the different things that are in our brains? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. She does. But I was like; oh my gosh. And I didn’t even lie about it. I was like; I didn’t say there was a family emergency. I’m like; I’m so sorry. I was confused in my brain. {laughing} 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. It’s better; I feel like college Liz would have been like; uh, eh, oh, family emergency. And you know, people do that. My trainer; he has a certain number of cancelations and people pop in and out. But he’s like; if I could tell you the number of people’s cats that have died or had to go to the hospital. People just come up with stuff. And he’s like; there is no way in the entire universe that this many cat emergencies could have happened to this many different people in the same week. People just come up with stuff, you know? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And I think at one point, I probably would have done that just to make people feel like I wouldn’t have forgotten them for something less important; but in the end, it’s just like; this is my brain. And I’ve just got to be authentic about it. {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And you’re not less important. 

Liz Wolfe: No! 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: This is just where I’m at in my life. 

Liz Wolfe: My husband; his analogy is; we have too many penguins and not enough iceberg. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mmm.

Liz Wolfe: And that’s my favorite thing. Ok, so my thing right now is to do these interviews, just kind of slide in style where we’re already talking and people pop in and they’re listening. But I think we can bringing back around and maybe do a little introduction here. And I was thinking about this; it’s kind of funny. I came on your podcast, and we just kind of jumped right in. It was really fun. We were talking about sunscreen and whatever. But I don’t know that we ever did that; hi! I’m so-and-so thing. So let’s do that. Will you introduce yourself to the Liz Talks universe? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah! Well, my name is also Liz. 

Liz Wolfe: Yay! 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Elizabeth Presta, most of my friends and family call me Liz. And I work as a birth doula and a podcaster. And I’m super passionate about health. More like learning to advocate for your own health and for women’s health and just trying to learn how to even integrate that into my own life now, having two kids and figuring out what’s right for me. What’s right for them. So many different options. I just love the idea of individualized care. So anytime I get the chance to talk about any of my passions, I will talk forever. {laughs} 

I just also love meeting people, like yourself, just who dive into the whys and the research and giving people options instead of just blindly; oh, the sun’s out, I’m going to put the sunscreen on my skin. You know? 

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Like, actually doing research. Figuring out good products. Just kind of finding your why, and wanting to do the best that we can for ourselves and our families. 

Liz Wolfe: I think one of the things; well, I feel like we connect on a lot of things. Because now that I watch your stories; every other story I’m like; me too! Me too! What you put up there today was so funny. Where you were like; I haven’t talked about the thing that I’m not going to name. But whatever you think I think about it is probably right. {laughing} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: I thought that was so great. And I was like; I see you. I just think that’s fun. But I also feel like what I got from our podcast together on Miraculous Mamas was that; you are all about really breaking down everything on both sides. So it’s not just like; oh, this holistic person said this was the right thing to do, so we do this. Or, this more conventional person says we do this so that’s what we do. It’s like; we’re breaking down both sides, and we’re figuring out what makes the most sense scientifically, from a commonsense perspective; questioning everything. Not taking anything for granted. And I feel like I really appreciated that about you, and about our interview, as well.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah, thank you. And I think that that’s where it is so important, because nothing is perfect. And that’s where you’re going to drive yourself crazy. I know that’s where I drive myself crazy. My family is about ready; we’re going on a road trip to go to a family reunion in Nebraska. So I’m trying to plan water-wise. And I know, drinking water out of a plastic bottle is not great. I know drinking tap water is not great. So which is the lesser of two evils while I’m traveling? I don’t have enough room to just bring all reverse osmosis water from home. You know? I’m like {laughs}. Then I’m like; oh my gosh. I don’t know which one is the right answer.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And it’s like; ok. You’re going on a road trip with your family. You’re going to see family. Maybe this is an area where you don’t need to stress yourself out. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Let it go. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right.

Liz Wolfe: No, I’m with that too. I just recorded a podcast about bug spray. And this is actually kind of painful for me, because I went through all of the scientific literature around DEET to figure out where we actually stand as far as whether it’s dangerous or not dangerous. I really wanted to find out that it’s extremely dangerous, but what I ended up finding out was that it just depends on context. Like; you’re going on a road trip. You’re going to be gone for, however long. A week, whatever it is. Whatever decision you make, let it go. Everyone is probably going to be fine. It’s not like you’re going to start drinking mud water from run off next door or something like that for the rest of your life. It’s like; this is a decision we’re making, what works with our lives. 

And the whole DEET thing; not to compare tap water to DEET, because that’s ridiculous. But the whole DEET thing; I was like; you know what? If you’re walking through heavy underbrush, and you’re really vulnerable to tick bites, and you’re in a high Lyme disease area, maybe you don’t want to mess with peppermint essential oil. Maybe you actually want to put on the DEET, and protect yourself, and then go home and take a shower. 

So it’s like; helping people weigh out those decisions {laughs} in a reasonable way and hopefully feel a little bit better when we have to end up doing something that we might not normally be comfortable with. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right. I know. I know. Its’ so easy to drive yourself crazy when you start getting into all of that. And then, just learning to let some things go and knowing that there is so much out of our control; so what can we control but let’s not also let it become a factor to where it’s stressing us out and affecting our health.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And causing other things. And that’s, I feel like, where I’m at right now. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. We don’t need more cortisol. {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right.  

Liz Wolfe: None of us do. OK. So, I have to ask you a quick question; why is your face so pretty right now? What kind of lighting are you using? {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: No; it’s just natural light. If I sit in front of a window, then it’s the natural sun coming in. That’s the only way that it looks like this. {laughing} 

Liz Wolfe: You’ve got the Paris filter on your face right now. I’ve got to figure out my podcast studio situation. I use my closet, so the clothes absorb all the extra sound. And I don’t think it’s kicking it up that extra notch, to the point where I couldn’t maybe move it to some place in front of a window. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. I need to figure out mine, too. I mean, I’m in the office at my in-laws house right now. But, normally I’m at home, sitting on the floor in our guest bedroom. And it’s just chaos. So I need a space. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: That’s what I feel like. I’ll be more productive if I have something really; I was like, should I buy new equipment for upstairs and for downstairs? So I don’t have to move things around, then I’m more likely to do it? Then I was like; that actually would be really lame if you spent that kind of money on a lighting system for upstairs and downstairs, just so you don’t have to move one thing up and down. But it’s like, when you have so much going on, you work for yourself, you’re raising kids, all of that other stuff. It just feels like; I’m not going to be able to put out what I want to put out into the world unless it is really set up to make things extremely easy. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. I feel that on a very deep level right now. {laughs} 

  • This phase of life [12:22]

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} Ok. So, tell everybody; tell us about your kids, if you’re comfortable sharing, how old they are and what stage of life that you’re in? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. So I have; my oldest will be 2 the beginning of September. And then my youngest was born March 2. So she’s a little over 4 months. And they are exactly 18 months and 1 day apart. 

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: So I’m like in a fun season. So one thing I’m really trying not to do is use the word “hard”. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: My husband made note that I say things are hard all the time. And I really want to get out of that, because then you really start believing it. But I’m in a chaotic but fun season. Because they’re both learning and growing so much. You see when you have a second kid; your older kid looks so huge, but then they’re still a baby. They’re still tiny. And that’s like; I think what I’m learning with her, since she’s the older one, there are some things where I feel like; oh, maybe she should know better. But she doesn’t yet. We’re still learning it. So really trying to focus on those areas where we need to work on certain things. Or I just need to sit and be with her instead of expecting something from her {laughs}. 

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And with my youngest it’s just that really fun, newborn stage I feel like she’s getting so chunky and I love it. She’s such a smiley baby; always kicking, chewing on things. And she’s just so much fun. And I think that’s something else you learn when you have your second; how fast it goes back. And the first time I was so stressed out. I mean, she was born September 2020, so it was a few months into the pandemic. I didn’t even know if my husband could be in the room with me. It was just chaos. And we had a very complicated birth. She ended up in the NICU for a week. Just the whole situation was so stressful. We weren’t letting family around. And it was so isolating. 

So I found myself; even though I’m a birth worker, as a doula, I’m like; wow. I know nothing about parenting. And researching and Googling constantly. Like; what should her weight windows be? I’m like; she’s three months old. Those are the things I’ve learned with the second one. Like the first one, I was stressing myself out so much. Googling, taking all the courses on everything. And this time I’m just so much more relaxed. And she’s great.

Jovi, my oldest, was probably stressed out because I was stressed out {laughs}. And the second one is so much more chill, and also I’m a lot more chill. But you just learn how fast it goes. I’m like; instead of stressing about these things, just absorb it all. Because pretty soon, my youngest is going to be the size of the oldest, and it just goes so fast. 

Liz Wolfe: Even without stressing about things, it still goes fast.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Oh, yeah.

Liz Wolfe: It still really does. Like, I don’t even know. I feel like I’m a lot more relaxed and a lot more confident as a mom. I mean, there were 5.5 years between my kids, so that was a whole thing in and of itself. But I feel like I’m so much more relaxed. I’m so much more capable of handling my life and her life and the other lives that are all in my orbit than I was when I had the one. 

But man. It’s still; I feel like what happened to the last 2 years? Because she was born in summer of 2020, as well. And I was in kind of a similar situation where it was like; I didn’t know what this was going to look like. If I gave birth at the hospital, would my husband even be able to be there? I definitely wouldn’t have been able to have a doula. At the very least, I would have had to choose between husband and doula. 

I didn’t feel; and this is not a statement one way or the other about masks, but I didn’t want to give birth in one. And at the time, I just didn’t know. We didn’t know where it was going. So I actually ended up opting for a home birth with my second. A home birth after cesarean. Which, for anyone listening, I’ve got some podcast episodes about that and I’m going to talk to you about that; or stuff related to that in a bit. 

But I was able to have my doula, which was just so life changing. I had a midwife in my home. And I’m not saying it was the perfect birth, but it was the right one for us. But I forgot where I was even going into that. But it was just a weird time. Just a weird, weird time. And in some ways, it still is. It feels like we’ve been emerging from this cocoon for a really long time. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm. I know. I know. It’s like, I feel like I’m a completely different person than when it started.

Liz Wolfe: Yup.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. The world has changed. Yeah, it’s a lot right now. But I also, with my second, I opted to do a birth center. I had the same midwife and doula, though. The midwife that delivered me in the hospital ended up opening a birthing center. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, wonderful.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: I had the same midwife and doula. So she was there through the whole thing with my first. Which I felt very supported through, even though it was very long and complicated and did not end up the way I wanted or had envisioned. I felt supported because of the providers I choose. I felt empowered and I knew they were doing everything they could to give me the birth experience that I wanted. 

But, you know. Sometimes things don’t always go the way; which is why I love birthing plans. To help you figure out your options and you feel empowered in making these different decisions, and you don’t feel like they’re just these scary things being presented to you. 

  • Work as a doula [18:04]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. For sure. And I want to talk about your passion, especially around birth plans, and all of that. But let’s start with talking about your work as a doula. How did you get into that work? How long have you been doing it? Your impressions of it? And I’d also like to pop in and maybe find out a little bit about your bereavement doula training, if you have any desire to talk about that. But I want to hear about your journey to becoming a doula. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. So, the first birth I ever saw was a home birth. My sister had a home birth with her, all four of her kids. But it was with her oldest, who is now 14 years old. So I was 21 at the time. I’d never been around birth or really thought anything of it. But I’m like; oh my gosh. This is crazy. This is intense. She had like a 24-hour labor. It was really hard. And just thinking; after he was born, how magical. How powerful you are. You can bring a baby into this world. That is crazy.

And at the time, I was living in Las Vegas. And shortly after that, a lot of my friends started having babies. And so many of them were ending up in C-sections. And Vegas had the highest C-section rate in the country; it was 40%. As a city/state, I know there are some individual cities that have some higher. Or hospitals. There are some individual hospitals that have some higher rates. But I’m like; that doesn’t make sense that almost half of women going into labor are having a cesarean. 

So I started doing some research on it. And I had dabbled in and out of college. {laughs} And in one of my classes, I ended up writing a research paper on home birth versus hospital birth. And I learned a lot. And I just started to get really passionate about it. 

One of the things I learned the most was how other countries are doing birth. And a lot of them, even if they are hospital settings, they’re with midwives. So most entry care for birth is to a midwife. And then, if you are high risk, you go to a doctor. You go to an OB. And here, it’s just not like that. You go to an OB, who is a trained, high risk doctor. So it’s just a completely different scenario. And even postpartum in other countries, midwives will come to your home and check on you. It’s just like such a different experience. 

And then I started seeing the maternal death rates. How we are in the high income nation bracket, yet we have the highest maternal death rates compared to other countries. Ours are higher than second world countries. Higher than Turkey, Kazakhstan. Like, it’s like; why. Why? {laughs} 

So I just started to get super passionate about it. So, about in 2012, I did a doula training program and did a few births, in 2012 and 13. And then I decided to go travel for a while. And I backpacked all over. I got to experience so many things. And then I ended up taking a job in Tanzania. I worked at a safari lodge, which was really cool.

But I got to know a lot about the Masai Mara tribe there. It was really crazy, because the way that they still practiced, they believe in female circumcision. Which most of us call female genital mutilation. Which makes childbirth that much more painful. And there is just; it was just really interesting studying other cultures and being around it. 

So, coming back I was still trying to figure out what to do with my life, and decided to become a life coach. So I went and got my life coach certification. Which ended up how I met my husband. But it wasn’t until the last few years; because being a doula is really hard work. You’re on call 24/7. And if you’re starting out a business that way, it can be really hard to make money, a sustainable income. So I always worked in hospitality and did that. So it was hard; how do you have a job but then be on call? 

So trying to find that balance, but still taking on different births. And then it was like, the last few years that I really started to get into it. And I had the opportunity; I got hired at a hospital here that actually hires doulas. It’s a midwife group out of a hospital. Which was such a cool experience, just first of all to be working amongst the midwives there, and having that comfortable relationship with them. That you could be like; what do you think about this? Or how come you made this call? And also always feeling welcomed.

I’d been to some births before where staff was like; oh, you’re a doula. You kind of get this pushback. And I’m like; I don’t understand. We’re on the same team. We want what’s best, hopefully. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Hopefully, yeah. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: For the client, you know. I’m not here to; I remember being at one birth and a nurse was like; thanks for letting me do my job. And I was like; I don’t know how to do your job. I’m not a nurse. {laughs} You’re welcome? {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: But I’m assuming maybe she had a bad experience with a doula before. Or just really had misconceptions of what we do. So it was really nice working at the hospital and having that relationship with the midwives and the nurses there. The nurses are so amazing. And they would love it when we would come to the birth. They’re like; oh, great. I know this patient is ok, and I can make my rounds and if you need anything you’re going to call me. You know? It was just such a great place to work. So I did that.

And then a few months before I was due with my second, I decided to kind of step back because the on-call life is really hard. You don’t know how long you’re going to be gone for. I could be gone for 36 hours {laughs} I could be gone for 6 hours. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: It was really, really hard. So I decided to step back for a little bit. Since I had my second, I have done two births. And I’m just casually taking some on here and there because I love it so much. But I really want to focus kind of on the educational aspects and empowering people in making those birthing plans. So even if they can’t afford a doula or they don’t have one, they’re still feeling empowered and educated going into the birth setting. 

Liz Wolfe: You know what I should have done from the beginning, is probably talk about what a doula is. {laughs} I think I take for granted that because I know what it is and I used one, maybe everybody else does, too. But maybe give a little background of that, and what the different is between a doula and a midwife. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah, so a doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support to laboring people through labor and birth. So our trained expertise comes in different birthing positions and techniques. Way to help alleviate pain, so that physical aspect. 

Also, the informational, which I know we’re going to cover some of it too. Your options, when a doctor comes in and is like; hey I think we need to start this. My job is to be like; do you want to talk about it? Figure out, here’s the pros, here’s the cons. Maybe we can ask to do this instead. Maybe we can ask for more time. And kind of help get you the support that you want throughout it. 

And then emotional; I mean, having a baby is an extremely {laughs} emotional process. There’s a lot that can go right, or wrong, or just even everything a part of it is so important. And as a doula, we’re the one person that is there throughout the whole thing. So if you’re birthing in the hospital setting, your providers are coming and going. And we are not. We are your constant. We still do need to take bathroom breaks and grab a snack or make a phone call at home.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Unacceptable. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: I know. {laughs} But we are your person, throughout. And one thing people will be like; well, what about my partner? They’re my person. But it’s like; ok, but are they a trained labor expert.

Liz Wolfe: Eh, no. {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Are they going to know how to help you? Are they going to know; hey, why don’t we try this position. And my job is to make your partner shine, too. They did some really cool studies that showed interviewing women 20 years later. And the ones that had a doula, they had fonder memories of their partner than the people who didn’t have doulas there. Because I give your partner a role. I’m like; hey, why don’t you do this? Make sure you’re doing this. She needs you right here right now. you know? You give them a role, depending on how involved they want to be. Some people want to be really hands on, so you’re showing them what to do. Some people don’t know how to react. So I’ve gone up to them and been like; she needs you in her face right now. She’s looking for you. You need to get eye to eye with her and let her know she can do this right now. Like; you know. Come on. {laughing} 

Liz Wolfe: Yes! 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Game time! But also giving your partner a break, too. If you have children at home, and they need to run home and check in on them. Sometimes it can be really long. Maybe they need to nap. They need to make sure they’re staying fueled and stuff. So our job is just to really be your constant throughout the whole experience.

Liz Wolfe: So I’m very emotionally unavailable {laughing}. So for me, I actually; bless my husband. He’s the best man in the world. But in those really intense moments, my instinct is to turn inward. It’s just me, myself, and I. And that might not be the healthiest coping mechanism, but it was the reality at the point that my second was being born. And I don’t know what I would have done without my doula. She was so amazing. I would turn to her and be like; is this normal? Do we need to talk to the midwife about this? What’s happening? 

Because when you’re in it; as, I don’t know, structured of a mind that I have about learning about things and accumulating information, I still had never given birth that way before. My first birth was some hours of labor, then going in, finding out she was breech, and basically being shipped off from the midwifery birthing center the hospital. Because they have to really, really be careful about their risk tolerance and all of that stuff. 

And even with all of that. I had not experienced a “natural” whatever you want to call it. I’d never experienced an unmedicated birth where I was feeling everything. It was also 5.5 years after my last birth. So my entire body was like; completely different. So having her there was transformational. And it probably was better for me and my husband’s relationship {laughs} that I could turn to her and not be like; stop it, stop it! You know; don’t touch me! Or whatever it might be. It was better for us for him to kind of be in the background playing that support role and for her to tell him where he was needed and where he could be useful. Because I’m telling you, the second he got close to me I would be like; stop it, stop it, stop it! And I don’t know. You’ve just got to go with it, right? I’m the one having the baby. So it’s my choice. {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: For sure. And I feel like, as a doula too; one thing I always tell clients is; do not be afraid to tell me what you want. If I’m touching you; we do a lot of hip squeezes, counter pressure, things like that. If it doesn’t feel good, if you don’t like it. Just be like; stop. And I won’t take it personally. If I’m talking you through a contraction and you tell me to shut up; fine. I’m not going to take it personally. My job is to try to help you the best way that I can. And if it’s not helping you; tell me. Because I want to be the best doula for you that I can. 

So I totally understand. And at my last birth, I told everyone to shut up. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: They were talking during a contraction; I was like, can you shut up? Thanks. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Don’t talk during the backswing, come on. Don’t do it. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. 

Liz Wolfe: Well, it was also a matter, I think, of having someone with me that had gone through it before. Just having another woman in my presence who knew. Who just knew. Because there’s a level that my partner just won’t understand. The physical experience of it, and all of that. And I know he loves me. And he knows I love him. But, having that.

And this is a historical thing; right? That there would be a support presence for women when giving birth that was not necessarily the other parent. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: That’s just kind of; that’s a thing. That whole, bringing that community back. That village back. During birth I think is just such an amazing thing. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm.

  • Hospital versus home [30:52]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. So, with all of that. You’ve seen probably a lot of different things. You’ve done hospital births. You’ve done home births. And you talked earlier about how in different countries it works a little bit differently. I partnered up with a midwife in Canada for Baby Making and Beyond, our birth and fertility program, years ago when I was pregnant with my first. And the most interesting stuff that she talked about was the fact that she could kind of cross those barriers. She would be in the home with women who were low risk. She was paid by the government, but she could attend home births as well as hospital births. And to be able to see both of those spaces was such an asset, I felt like. Such an incredible thing.

Now, midwives in the United States can’t necessarily cross those thresholds on a regular basis, but you can. So what do you see across that spectrum? What are the best parts of hospital births? What are the best parts of home births that you’ve seen? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: I think the best part of each of them is that that’s where you chose and wanted to birth. So there are some people that are going to feel much safer birthing in a hospital. And they get the experience that they want. They’re like; I want to go to the hospital. I want an epidural. {laughs} I want whatever. And they get the experience that they want. 

And just when the staff is so kind; that’s the best. The last birth I did a month ago, I was at a hospital I’d never been before. Which I always get really nervous about. Because I’m like; oh, I don’t know how the staff is going to be. You know; I don’t know how this doctor is. And come to find out, this doctor; I didn’t know this about him, that this was him at the time. But I’d been speaking to somebody else before and he was her doctor, and he had told her all sorts of crazy things that I don’t agree with. 

But when he did the birth that I was at, he was amazing. I was like; the doctor was so nice. There were a couple of things that he was like; I think we should do this. And she was like; no. And he was like; ok, no problem. And moved on. And he was awesome. His bedside manner was amazing. He was just very relaxed and super kind and gentle. You know. However, he had told somebody else that she couldn’t travel after 25 weeks to Mexico because of Zika. Like a few months ago. 

Liz Wolfe: Huh! 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right! Like 6 months ago. I’m like; Zika literally; there’s as much Zika in the United States as there and there are zero active cases right now, so I would not listen to that information. But whatever. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And yeah. There were a few things where he was like; you can’t eat or drink. Whatever. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, can we talk about that real quick? Because we got into this. I think you and I were talking about this. Like, the actual evidence around not eating or drinking. Or maybe you’ve talked about this on your podcast. Can you slide in a little science fact about that? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. Well, first of all this dates from the 1940s, when they were actually putting women under general anesthesia to give birth. And medicine has come so far, so the chance of aspirating back then was much higher. So they were taking all of the precautions. They weren’t using acid reducers to make sure that your stomach contents were low. The tubing was different. Whatever. 

So this doctor was like; if we don’t let them eat and drink, their risk of aspiration decreases. Which was true back then. Big surprise; we’ve come so far in 80 years in medicine. They give you acid reducers. The tubing, whatever they do. I don’t know the exact words for it {laughs}. They make sure everything is in. They’re so good at their job. 

So, it basically never happens. And in the 2000s, in the UK, they decided to take a closer look at this. Because what’s really cool about the UK is every single maternal death that happens, they investigate. So this was a part of investigations. And in 10 years, over 6 million births, there was one case of aspiration. And it was a medical error. The person removed the tubing before they were supposed to, and aspiration occurred. So, it could have been fixed. But that was one in 6 million. 

Even at this birth I was at a month ago, that was on her birth plan that she could eat or drink. And the nurse was like; it’s really dangerous for you to eat or drink in labor. And then the doctor made a similar comment; and I’m like no it’s not. Just thinking in my head, like; nu-huh. Nope. 

Liz Wolfe: Nope. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Maybe some printouts and hand them out. I don’t know the code for this. Here’s the research. Here are the articles you can look up. Because it’s actually extremely rare. When you think about it; there are patients that go into the ER all the time that need medical emergency surgery right then. They’re really good at doing their job. 

And what we’ve come to find out, though, is a lot of times they’ll say not to because you can throw up a lot in labor. But that’s still not a reason to withhold food and beverage from a laboring woman in need of energy. And also, most people aren’t trying to eat a bunch in labor anyways. You kind of limit yourself. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, that’s so true. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Giving you those free reigns; it’s not like I’m going to be like, oh I want four burritos, stat. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} I tried to eat two bites of eggs when I was in labor, and I was like; get these out of my face. {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right! I think I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the beginning of labor. But, I don’t really remember. So most people limit themselves, especially if they’re unmedicated. So once you get an epidural, sometimes they’ll say you can’t have any. There are also hormonal things that can happen with that that could cause more vomiting. But that still doesn’t mean that you should be limited.

My first birth, I threw up the entire time. From the time I was 2 cm until I pushed the baby out. I was puking my brains out. But nobody told me I couldn’t eat or drink. I needed to drink, to replenish myself. I wasn’t hooked up to an IV until the last few hours. So I needed to keep my energy up. I was exhausted. I can’t imagine withholding food or beverage from somebody whose body is working so hard. 

Even if you have an epidural, your uterus is a muscle, and it’s working really hard. You’re burning tons of calories. And there’s no significant evidence that shows that food and beverage should be limited. 

Liz Wolfe: So it probably is really hard for you to not bring your binder full of studies and scientific evidence. Actually; I imagine you would agree with this. I have compassion for these health care providers, because they see… they’re balancing so many different things. And just the demands of the day to day are probably unbelievable. So I get it. You can’t stay on top of every little piece of research in the entire world. But why not pick the brains of the people that are, you know? When you have them in the room with you. And be like; oh, ok. Well bring this lady some orange juice. You know? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right.

Liz Wolfe: I have compassion for everybody. But, that’s a tough one to swallow. And that’s actually why; so I’ll share. For my first birth, I was like; I’ve got to avoid the “conventional medical paradigm.” And I really demonized it. And what I learned from that, especially with the surprise breech baby and having to be in the hospital, and actually meeting the most compassionate, amazing, wonderful doctor in the entire world in that hospital where I felt like; at the midwifery clinic where I was at before that wasn’t the right fit for me. And I was really trying to put square peg in a round hole. And then it ended up that my baby was like; hey. We’re going elsewhere. You know? We’re going to the place that’s right for you.

Obviously, I wouldn’t have chosen a C-section for myself, but it ended up being a really, really beautiful thing. And also enabled me to; I don’t know. I needed that reality check. Because I feel like; you know, you’ve got a podcast. You’ve got an internet presence and people ask you questions and you say; this is the best way. Well no I needed that reality check punch in the face that was like; actually, there are many ways and many places that people can feel safe. And the number one most important thing, as you said, is that they feel safe and that they have been able to make their own choices.

But come to find out, because of my C-section, I met the doctor that would then deliver; well, almost deliver, my second baby. She had me a patient all the way up until the end when I said; you know what, I feel safest at home. And she said; I can’t recommend that. But I can support you as a person. And she was so gracious, so wonderful. We went to see her that morning, and she said; call me if you need to go to the hospital. And I was like; ok I will. And we went home, and I birthed at home with midwives. 

So just that entire experience across the spectrum of providers and realizing; it’s really about the person. it’s really about the human being that you’re talking to. Whether that’s an OB. Whether that’s a midwife. Whoever. That can really create and be part of an experience with you.

And at the same time, sometimes those things are out of our control. And one of the things that was really a touchstone for me realizing that was that I had a doula who was my doula. She was there for me. Exactly as you were saying before. I could bounce everything I wanted to bounce off of her, and she was that constant for me. And it was so calming and so helpful to have somebody to talk to and to bounce things off of. And just to know that she was here for me and nobody else. 

So that’s part of the reason I wanted to talk to you today, and hear more about your work. Because it’s just the coolest thing. And I think everybody should have a doula. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Oh, agreed. Agreed. It’s cool because some insurances and some companies are starting to cover it. I believe Walmart is covering doulas for their employees. 

Liz Wolfe: Wow, that’s cool.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. So there’s some companies and some insurance companies that will do it. So make sure you check that out if you’re having a baby. Just to see. And I mean, obviously I’m a huge advocate for them. Just because, also the research shows how beneficial they are. The C-section rate decreases by 28% when there’s a doula present. Your satisfaction increases. Shorter labor times. More likely, again, to feel seen, heard, everything like that, which is so, so important. Less likely to have all sorts of other interventions. And the benefits and the research really speak for themselves when it comes to doulas.

I’m a doula, and I had a doula. At both of my births. I’m like; I’m not doing this without one. Even though I trusted the midwives that I was birthing with, I loved them. I needed my doula there. And then we had such a great experience my first time with her. I mean, she was awesome. And then she came to my second one, and it was such a completely different birth. I feel like everything she tried I was like; nope. Don’t touch me. Everybody shut up. But the fact that she was there was what we needed.

  • Birth plan [42:06]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Just the presence. So, I know you’re really passionate about birth plans and educating people about their birth options. So what does a good birth plan look like to you? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: So, I don’t think; I know you touched on this before. It’s like; not necessarily a right or a wrong. A good birth plan to me just looks like you’ve actually researched options and you know what you want, but also that you know things can change so that you have a backup.

So for me, a birth plan will include in case of Cesarean; in case of induction. All the; in case of NICU maybe even. Just because these are things that maybe you don’t plan for, but you still need to be educated on in case it heads that way.

Liz Wolfe: Yes! Oh my gosh, can I jump in real quick. I hate to; I just want to double up on that. Because I refused to plan for a C-section, because I felt that if I planned for it, it would make it more likely to happen. Which is just nonsense. Just some roadblock that I had in my brain. But I very much wish that I had planned for those scenarios with my first, because I would have felt a little bit less like a deer in headlights when everything shifted. So I’ve got to plus-one that really quick.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it is really important to know. Because it can be scary. I mean, for me, I know if I had been laboring and then headed into a cesarean, I would be terrified. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And everybody else around me was, too. They were looking at me like; what should we do next? And I was like, I don’t know! I’m about to have a baby! You know? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right, right. But then if you know options. If you know things that you can ask for or different research, you can just feel much more empowered and at ease that; ok. I don’t have to worry about this. There’s obviously still going to be the emotional side of it that you have to deal with. But having that knowledge. Knowledge is power, just so much. And that’s very true of birth plans, too.

I think a good birth plan too also just kind of takes into consideration the type of birth that you want. So I printed this out and made notes all over it.

Liz Wolfe: Oh; yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Just because there’s; let’s say you know you want pain relief. You’re very, very open to getting an epidural, and you’re like, ok I’m going to go as far as I can, and then if I need the epidural, I’ll get it. But then also on your birth plan, you have intermittent monitoring. Those things don’t coincide. 

Liz Wolfe: Hmm.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: So, once you get drugs into your system, they need to monitor the baby. So you are going to have continual monitoring. But then when you know the research, also; continual monitoring leads to higher C-section rates. So, that may not change your mind. But also you have to make it realistic, too. So when you’re telling them; hey, I’m going to get an epidural and then don’t monitor me. they’re like; no. we can’t do that.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: So it’s important just to have that information. And I love simple bullet point birth plans. So a good birth plan to me doesn’t look like paragraphs. It doesn’t look like; hey, my name is this. My husband’s name is this. And this is what we’re planning for our birth. And here’s a paragraph about it. Bullet point. People do not want to sit and read everything.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. “We believe in a woman’s natural ability to birth on all fours.” Yeah. {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right. They want, ok during labor; point, point, point, point, point. Birth. Point, point. For the newborn; point, point. Postpartum; you know. You keep it very simple, very clean bullet point. And that’s what I’m a big fan of, as far as that goes. 

And then just knowing the information that you’re putting down. I’m just a fan of birth plans in general; not that there’s a good or a bad one. But the fact that you made one means you took the time to look into; ok. What are the medication options? Does my hospital; and it opens conversations with your provider. So you ask them; what do you have? You have epidurals. You have IV medications. You have nitrous oxide. What else helps reduce pain? Movement, positions, having the doula there to help with counter pressure, massage, things like that. 

And then opening these conversations with your provider helps you see if they’re the provider for you. And that’s my whole passion behind also having a birthing plan, is I encourage people to do their birthing plans way in advance. Because most appointments you don’t go over it until your 36th week. And what if at that time you get there and you find that your provider is not in support of you have a VBAC. You know? And you’re like; wait a second. Now, I’m due in a month. And I need to find a new provider. Or I have to completely change what I want for myself. 

So having these questions at the beginning; knowing that you’re doing the research. Knowing that you can ask these questions. Like on this birth plan here from your Baby Making and Beyond, has heplock on it. A lot of places will just automatically do a heplock no matter what. That might be something you have to talk to your doctor about. 

I know, even though I birthed my daughter, my oldest, at the hospital that I worked with, that was an argument that I had with the nurse when I got there. She’s like; ok, we’re going to put the heplock in. I said, no I don’t want it. And she’s like; no, we really need to do this now. I was like; no thank you. And my husband really; because I would tell him different things that had happened, and he just didn’t believe it or didn’t know. And after our whole birthing experience, he was like; oh my gosh, you really have to stand up for yourself. I’m like; yes. You do. 

And finally the midwife came in and she goes; she doesn’t have to have it. So I was able to labor without for the first 16 hours, until I ended up getting an epidural. And there is a reason why they want to put it in. Once you’re in labor, your body is under stress. It’s more likely that your veins could collapse. But that’s also the convenience for them. This is your birth, and you want to create the environment that you want. And for me, I cannot have something in my arm and relax and labor through. And I hate needles. I hate all that stuff. I don’t do well; every time I have to give blood, I’m like; ok, I really have to take my mind to a different place. So I knew that was something I did not want.

So having these conversations. Seeing what your provider supports. Then that opens up that conversation of whether you’ve chosen the right provider or not. And things can change. They might seem supportive of something at first, and then you’re like; at your 36 week appointment and they’re like; ok, let’s schedule your induction. You know? And you’re like; wait a second. I don’t want to get induced. And they’re like; oh, we don’t let anyone go past 40 weeks. Because there are providers that do that. Then you’re like; oh. Ok. Maybe I need to go find somebody else. 

Liz Wolfe: So it’s the process of doing the birth plan. And maybe doing the birth plan multiple times throughout the process of pregnancy is really where it’s maximum value is achieved.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think so. I’m a huge fan of childbirth education courses, too. I feel like those really help you break a lot of the stuff down, as well. Because it can be a lot of information. I mean, how many people are going to sit there and go through each bullet point, researching what’s good, what’s not. What I should do, what I shouldn’t. 

But, I just encourage people; we plan for so much in our lives. We plan for our careers. We plan for our wedding day. But then when it’s birth, it’s like; ope, let’s just get pregnant and we’re going to have a baby. It’s like; you should plan for your pregnancy as well before that even happens. There’s so much research coming out showing that nutrition plays a vital role in that. And the nutrition gaps that can happen from hormonal birth control or things like that that can really affect fertility or trying to get pregnant and trying to fill those in and giving yourself the best chance that you can. And I’m somebody who has had a couple of miscarriages. So I know they can be really, really tough. And giving yourself that time to really plan, and plan for your birth.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. I think the best balance is probably when; I think you said this earlier. You plan for what you can plan for. So I think you said something similar. And then just let go of the rest. So, that’s a process, too. We’re so misaligned with our primal selves. The world is just not; we all live together in a small community and we go give birth under a big tree. {laughs} All of the stuff that we think of when we think of how it maybe used to be many, many; hundreds of years ago. 

But a good way to realign ourselves and sort of bring ourselves back into focus around birth and the birth process is to understand as much as you can. But hopefully have the wisdom to limit yourself. As in, don’t do what I did, which is to think I have to know everything an OB/GYN knows; everything a midwife knows; everything a doula knows; and then everything about my body and anything it might do at some point in the future. 

That was too much. That was too much stress. But just the process of birth planning and consulting with a doula about your birth plan can give you so much peace and empower you. I mean, to a degree that I don’t know; I don’t know that I’d ever experienced it before, my second birth. My first birth, I had a doula. And I think that the fit probably wasn’t as good as it could have been. And that’s ok, too. The process of believing in myself and sort of editing my experience and bringing people in and releasing others with love and respect has been work. But, I just hope that people listen to this podcast who haven’t considered a doula before, and realize the value of not just that, but also the planning process. And of course preparing for what you can, and releasing the rest. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm. That is really important. I know we call them birth plans, but I always say birth wishes. Because there are things that can come up. And when that happens; I always say too, I never want; I’ve heard people think, say that they think I hate doctors or something like that. And that’s so not true, at all. Like I said, I used to work at a hospital. And the staff there was so amazing. Even one of the last births that I went there, the midwife had to consult with the OB. The OB came in, and she was amazing and the birth did end up in a cesarean and this mother did need it. And it is there for a reason. Plans don’t always go according to plan. That’s why having these other pieces of information and having a doula to fill in the gaps really, really does help out. Because doctors are amazing. I don’t want to be a doctor; that’s way too much schooling that I don’t want to take {laughs}. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And they have; like you said, they have so much on their plate. And there are so many amazing doctors out there. So many amazing doctors. Then there are some that; it’s not that they’re not amazing, they’re just not caught up with the science. They’re not caught up with the research. And it shows, that it takes about 20 years for the research to implement itself. And when I first started practicing births in Vegas, not one doctor would do delayed cord clamping. All the births went to, none of them would. And now here it’s every birth I’ve been to. They’re like; yeah, no problem. 

So it’s like; I’m like is that a Chicago versus Vegas thing, or was that like, it’s been 10 years now, later. I started in 2012. And I’m like; was it just started to become more implemented? But it is important to find somebody who is going to support you who believes in evidence based birth. 

And that’s also just a resource I’m going to throw out there for anybody listening, too. The Evidence Based Birth podcast, website, blog. They are absolutely amazing. So if you are going through your birthing plan and you’re like; oh, ok. What about getting a membrane sweep? You can literally write that in and hit EBB, or evidence based birth. And a podcast and a blog will pull up all about it. And Rebecca Dell does such an amazing job of bringing all the research and the science together and breaking it down to where you can digest it. And giving you actual numbers of showing; here’s the percentage of this happening. Here’s the risk of this happening. Here’s this. Now you take that information and decide what you want. 

To you, 1% risk could be huge. Like; I’m not taking that risk. Or you’re like; oh, that’s only 1%. No big deal. Sign me up. You know? {laughs} So, it’s literally breaking down that information so that you can make the best decisions for yourself. 

Liz Wolfe: Ok. That’s fabulous. And I want to hear if you have any other favorite resources. But first, what was I going to say? It just pops into my head and then it pops right back out.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: It’s like; how many times have I done this on this stupid podcast? Dangit. Oh, I remember what it was. You said; oh and I forgot again. What were you just talking about? Birth plans, doctors, cord clamping. Ok. Got it guys. I got it back. 

So one of the things I was thinking about when you were talking about that was I imagine the involvement of doulas in more hospital births are probably the reason why some of these practices have kind of trickled down and are now much more common in hospitals. Because I don’t think that came from some really excited technically obsessed OB, you know, at some big teaching hospital saying; hey! We should really start delaying cord clamping! It was probably this unified voice of doulas and midwives and women saying; this is what we want. And it becoming incorporated into practice. So there’s more than one way to convince somebody. And sometimes, it’s through many, many voices asking for the same thing.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Right. Right. Absolutely. I agree with that. I think we at the level we’re at have to demand change. Because if you keep asking and asking and asking, then hopefully it does start to go that way. So I do think, when you have a doula, you’re more likely to create a birth plan and you’re more likely to have that on your birth plan, to do delayed cord clamping. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: So that makes sense that doctors were like; wait, a bunch of people are asking for this now. What’s up with that? 

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. Can’t hurt. Ok. So, evidence based birth. What are some other of your favorite resources for birth planning. For learning more about your body and the process of birth. Birthing classes and what not. 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Mm-hmm. Well, I would say evidence based birth birthing class is really good, too. They have a childbirth education course. I think if you can take any form of a childbirth education course, it’s going to help. So whether that’s hypnobirthing or Lamaze or the Bradley method. Any of these are going to give you really great insights into the stages of labor; what to expect. There’s a lot of what’s normal, what’s not normal in there.

It is a lot of information, so it can be hard to kind of absorb it all. And obviously when you’re in labor, you might not be thinking of it. So if your partner can take your course with you, it’s really beneficial. But you do absorb. You absorb more than what you think.

And then I’m creating a birth planning course right now.

Liz Wolfe: Yay! 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: So you’ll have to look out for that. Which I’m super excited about. Just really diving into ach of the steps on there. So really diving into if you want an epidural, what are the pros, what are the cons, what are the risks, what are the benefits. And then moving on down the list of what I feel like is important on those bullet points and really talking through each one to help you create your perfect birth plan. And then coming up with a template for that as well.

You also have a great template, your Baby Making and Beyond. 

Liz Wolfe: Well I want to get that feedback; I see you wrote on it. I want you to send that to me, so I can see what you put on there and we can make it better.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. Well I more wrote on here; I just dove in deep. I was writing notes on; because you have antibiotics, and for me it’s like; well, are you strep B positive. If you are, here’s the risks. Here’s the benefits. Or, is it just because your water broke? What does the research actually say, because you really don’t have risk of infection for a couple of days. It really doesn’t increase; unless you’re getting cervical checks continuously. That opens you up for infection. 

So there’s so much that goes into each thing. So that’s why I’m excited about the course that I’m doing. But even why I love birth plans like that, because it makes you look into that. You’re like; well, why would I be on antibiotics in labor? And you can ask your doctor. And they’ll be like; oh well if you have group B streptococcus, or if your water breaks. And then you can be like; ok, well what if my water just broke? You know, like, how long? Opening that up and really seeing what their philosophy is and finding out what the research says about it. 

But yeah. I mean, you can also Google birth plan template. There’s a million out there. Like I said, the cleaner and simpler it is, the better. I’m not a huge fan of the picture ones. I know there are some that have pictures on it. I think that can be confusing sometimes. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, that makes sense. So the way we did our birth plan in Baby Making and Beyond was a red, green, yellow. So we’ve got the words, and you take your little highlighter and you say green; yes. Red, no. Yellow is kind of like; well it depends. We need to have some counsel around it. And I was hoping that we can maybe; if I have the approval of Elizabeth Presta; maybe until your birth plan course is available, maybe we can give people our birth plan as like a free download. And we’ll maybe send people to www.RealFoodLiz.com/BirthPlan. And then we’ll keep maybe that birth plan there, and we’ll incorporate your feedback into it. And then once your program is available, we’ll swap it out and we’ll send people your way.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. I’m down for whatever. I think just something for people to help guide them is really important. Because it can be a lot; like I said. It’s hard. And then reading books, I think is awesome. Birth Without Fear is a great birth. If you’re planning an unmedicated birth, anything by Ina May. Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth is really good. And I’m trying to think. I feel like I’m drawing a blank now. There are so many birthing books out there.

Liz Wolfe: I think those two were pretty impactful for me. I remember reading Birthing Without Fear during my first pregnancy and just weeping. {laughs} Just so many feelings just kind of coming up and being evacuated during the process of reading that book. But it was a good experience. And I read Ina May’s and I can’t remember what else.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Penny Gaskin is another person that has a lot of stuff out there. But yeah. I keep thinking I need to create a “Read these books if you’re pregnant” tab. But the Mama Natural Book Guide is really fun, too. Because it takes you through week by week. This is what your baby is doing. This is what you could be going through. And there are recipes in there and things to help guide you along the way. So that one can be really fun, as well.

I know we didn’t talk about the bereavement doula thing. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, right, right, right.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: I was just going to say; it’s really intense so far. {laughs} It’s a lot of information. Just really helping families through loss. Because whether you found out that you were pregnant and a week later you had a miscarriage; or you had a stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy. It really covers an umbrella of every form of loss. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not valid. Just because you’ve lost your baby at 8 weeks and somebody else had a stillbirth doesn’t mean that your feelings and emotions aren’t just as valid. Or that you didn’t have a deep connection. That you didn’t get excited. And you have your Pinterest nursery board already planned in that first couple of weeks that you found out. And you told everyone because you were too excited to keep it in. It’s such a deep course, really. I’m learning just how to support people through that. Because I felt like I didn’t have any, and that was really hard for me. Especially with my second. Just really feeling like I had no where to turn, nobody understood. And that I was really, really alone. And I want to be able to be there for families going through that.

And I realize I don’t know what to say. {laughs} You know? It’s hard to know what to say. So learning those tools is really, really important to me. I know that it will help with my healing. Already I read through the orientation packet and just bawled. And I thought that I was over it, because it was over a year ago. And I’m like; I thought I was over it. But wow. So much is coming up. And just bawling in the orientation packet.

But I think it’s just like another tool for grieving mothers and families. And feeling like you don’t have to go through it alone. And having somebody who is trained in the tools to really help you. Because it is important to be able to lean on people that you love. But a lot of people don’t know how to really be there for you during that. How to offer condolences, or even if it’s 3 in the morning and you feel like you can’t text somebody and be like; listen, I’m really struggling. I’ll be that person. 

Liz Wolfe: I think that is a beautiful, beautiful place to end our interview today. So Elizabeth Presta, where can people find you? Where can people follow you? 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah. I’m on Instagram @ESandos, and I have a podcast called Miraculous Mamas that Liz so graciously came on. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Elizabeth Joy Presta: And we had so much fun. And then I have a website; MiraculousMamas.com. So any of those.

Liz Wolfe: Perfect. I’ll put them all in the show notes. And hopefully we can do something like this again soon.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Yeah, sounds great. 

Liz Wolfe: Thank you so much.

Elizabeth Joy Presta: Thank you.

Liz Wolfe: That’s it for episode 36. A huge thank you to Arrowhead Mills for making this episode possible. Remember, you can ask me anything by sending me a DM @RealFoodLiz on Instagram. But the best way to ask is to go to www.RealFoodLiz.com/AskLiz. That way, the questions don’t get lost in my inbox. 

I appreciate you! I’ll see you next week. 

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