Supportive and collaborative care during life’s biggest transitions
Kirby Paterson, LMSW, PMH-C, CPD
Psychotherapist & Postpartum Doula
Kirby Paterson (she/her), is a psychotherapist and postpartum doula based in Ann Arbor, MI. As both a therapist and a doula, she seeks to provide a warm, steady, supportive environment for clients as they navigate through big transitions or challenges.Kirby graduated from the University of Michigan School of Social Work in 2010 and for the last decade has been doing clinical work in various settings including a trauma center, a school-based health center, group practice, and a large hospital system. Kirby holds a certificate in integrated behavioral health and primary care, as well as a certificate in perinatal mental health (PMH-C). She is especially passionate about working with expectant and new parents during the perinatal period, particularly around issues of adjustment to parenthood, mood concerns, and trauma. Kirby also has a strong interest in working with adolescents and adults experiencing chronic illness, and has spent several years supporting families living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in her clinical role at Mott Children’s Hospital.Kirby became interested in birth and postpartum work after attending a birth for one of her friends in 2009. The births of Kirby’s own children several years later brought her attention to the large gap that exists in postpartum care. Kirby began working as a postpartum doula after training with Lifespan Doulas and becoming certified. Since that time, she has aimed to support families with a compassionate, non-judgmental, and trauma-informed approach in the time immediately after the birth of a baby. Kirby feels honored to be working with families during this time of intense adjustment and change and takes great joy in seeing her clients grow with confidence in their new roles as parents.In her free time, you can find Kirby cooking, practicing yoga, and spending time with her friends and family.
Frances Martin, MSW, CPD
Frances Martin (she/her), MSW, is a social worker and postpartum doula committed to supporting families during the important, and often overwhelming, transition period of welcoming a new baby.Frances works to create a nonjudgmental environment that promotes peace and joy for the whole family. By providing emotional and practical support, she helps build contexts for healing and bonding. From processing the birth experience to working out family sleep strategies and newborn soothing techniques, Frances loves being part of the adventure of welcoming a new human into the family. Her approach utilizes themes common to postpartum traditions around the world—warmth, rest, nourishment, community. At the same time, her primary focus is providing individualized care for each family, based on their unique needs, preferences, and goals. Frances loves preparing delicious meals and sharing nurturing practices for caregivers. As a mother of two who has experienced the gaps in postpartum care firsthand, she is dedicated to making the adjustment as joyful and supported as possible for every family she works with.Frances has completed postpartum doula training with Lifespan Doulas and is a graduate of both the Newborn Mothers Collective and Newborn Mothers Breastfeeding programs. She holds a BA in American Culture and an MSW with specializations in child development, infant mental health, trauma healing, and attachment theory, both from the University of Michigan. She has worked for over a decade with children and families—coordinating educational services for students in southeast Michigan.When she’s not chasing her two little ones around, she loves cooking, eating, practicing yoga, and spending time with friends.
Annie Bigwood (she/her) is a birth and postpartum doula currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work with a dual-title in Infant Mental Health at Wayne State University. She finds great joy and fulfillment in helping others and is honored to stand by birthing people during the transitions of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood. She also loves to connect with other reproductive justice advocates through volunteering with the nonprofit Birth Detroit.Annie is dedicated to advocacy, equity and access to care for all people regardless of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity. She offers nurturing and nonjudgmental support and celebrates all bodies, family configurations and identities.Annie has completed postpartum and birth doula training with Heart Soul Birth Pros and is training to become an Integrative Lactation and Infant Feeding Specialist with Manhattan Birth in Summer 2022. She holds a BA in Government with a focus on Community Action and Public Policy from Connecticut College.Following her undergraduate studies, Annie served for 26 months as a community health volunteer with the Peace Corps in Senegal. Since training as a doula, she has worked as a Maternal Infant Health Case Planner at a nonprofit serving pregnant and parenting young women experiencing homelessness in Detroit. She currently volunteers as a birth doula with University of Michigan’s Dial-a-Doula program.In her free time Annie loves reading, eating, music and spending time with her friends, family and her dog Frankie.
Areas of Interest
• The perinatal period (fertility, pregnancy, postpartum)
• Chronic illness
• Life transitions
My therapy approach is tailored to each client’s needs and preferences. I tend to see things from a lens of social justice and aim to create a warm and safe environment in which we can discuss the most important (and sometimes most difficult) things for you. I often incorporate evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) into sessions while also using mindfulness and a strengths-based approach. I have obtained a certification in perinatal mental health (PMH-C) and am also trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI), which inform my practice a great deal. I also strongly believe that collaboration is a key component of care, and will coordinate with other providers, such as your PCP or psychiatrist, whenever needed.
$150/regular sessionInsurance accepted: Physician's Health Plan (PHP), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS)You may be eligible for out-of-network coverage through your insurance provider. Check your insurance benefits to see if this is an option for you.Note: I believe that mental health care should be widely accessible and I offer sliding scale services on an as-needed basis. If financial barriers are impacting your ability to obtain mental health services, please reach out to me directly.
Services may vary greatly depending on the needs of each family, but can include:Emotional support
Tips for postpartum recovery
Basic newborn care
Basic meal preparation
Opportunities for rest
Light household assistance
Connection to community resourcesServices are initiated with a complimentary consult to determine if we would be a good fit for one another. If it is determined that we are not an appropriate fit, I am happy to connect you with another doula who may be.Note: Financial constraints should not be a barrier to excellent postpartum support. I offer sliding scale services on an as-needed basis. Please feel free to contact me for more information
Bringing Home Baby - 12 Hours
12 hours of tailored support to be used within the first 4 weeks postpartum
Phone, e-mail and text support in first 4 weeks
Local resource guide for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti AreaPostpartum Support - 24 hours
1 prenatal planning session for the postpartum period (1 hour)
24 hours of tailored support to be used within the first 8 weeks postpartum
Phone, e-mail and text support in the first 8 weeks postpartum
Local resource guide for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti AreaPostpartum Support - 50 hours
1 prenatal planning session for the postpartum period (1 hour)
50 hours of tailored support to be used within the first 12 weeks postpartum
1 check-in call after services have ended (30 minutes)
Phone, e-mail and text support in the first 12 weeks postpartum
Local resource guide for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti areaPostpartum Support - 100 Hours
1 prenatal planning session for the postpartum period (1 hour)
Phone, e-mail and text support in the prenatal period
100 hours of tailored support to be used within the first 12 weeks postpartum
1 check-in call after services have ended (30 minutes)
Phone, e-mail and text support in the first 12 weeks postpartum
Return-to-work support session (1 hour)
Local resource guide for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti areaA la carte Services:
Additional hours billed at $35/hr
Prenatal Planning session (1 hour): $75
Back to work support session (1 hour): $75
Overnight support (pending doula availability): $40/hour, 10 hour minimumcustom packages available upon request
kind words from some of Haven's recent clients
I was lucky to have Kirby as my postpartum doula virtually over the past few months. Being a new mom is HARD and Kirby provided support on a range of things I didn't know I needed until the moment hit. Prior to giving birth we discussed anticipated challenges and talked through proactive solutions. Once I was home from the hospital there were a million questions that popped up and Kirby was only a quick call or text away to help. She checked in regularly on my physical and emotional health in a way where I felt like she "got me" as a woman going through so many changes. Beyond just being a great doula, Kirby is an amazing person. She actively listens, is extremely thoughtful and provides suggestions in the most nonjudgemental way. I didn't really know what a postpartum doula was or if I needed one, and now I can't imagine not having her support during that time. Kirby is like a warm (covid friendly!) hug I didn't know I needed, I highly recommend!
-Chelsea C.I didn't know I needed a postpartum doula until I had Kirby! She was a wealth of knowledge to help me recover postpartum and adjust to being a family of 3 in a healthy way. She honestly helped me so much with "how to take care of a newborn" tips and tricks which may sound silly but especially during COVID when support was lacking, she stepped up and helped immensely. She was a helping hand around the house too and didn't hesitate to help in any way she could even changing our sheets, feeding the baby so I could shower, or doing the mountain of dishes. She is a humble and kind soul who really cares about her clients. Note: she was also very COVID considerate, wearing a mask and disclosing any activities clients may want to know about without asking. Very appreciated!
-Kelly H.Kirby was wonderful to have as a postpartum doula! She anticipated my needs before I realized what they were. Kirby helped me with postpartum planning before my second child was born. We discussed many things to prepare, including: postpartum healing/recovery and personal care, breastfeeding plan, sibling adjustment, support plan from our family, ways for her to support our family, and meal planning. Kirby assisted with meal preparation and with snacks such as lactation cookies (accommodating our plant based diet). It was such a relief when we didn’t have to cook and our family could focus on resting and spending time together. Kirby provided support in the evenings to help with the light housework, baby care (so I could eat dinner with the family), sibling help by reading stories and playing when my husband and I had our hands full. She made me tea and taught me how to baby wear with a ring sling. She provided much needed emotional support in relation to normal adjustment and multiple stressors after baby was born. She has a very warm and nonjudgmental presence. I highly recommend Haven Postpartum Doula services, whether you are a new mom or you already have children!
-Brittany C.Kirby was a great support as a postpartum doula in the early weeks with our newborn. She helped with everything, from feeding baby, organizing, chores, spending time with older sibling, to providing delicious & nutritious snacks. We especially appreciated the overnight support she was able to occasionally provide, and just being there to listen & advise. I highly recommend her services!
-Vasudha C.I can't gush enough about how supportive Frances is for new moms. As a first-time mom, I had no idea what to expect postpartum. Frances was so gentle, compassionate, and thoughtful in helping me think about what kind of support I'd want and need. Her warm advice about setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing my and my family's well-being helped me give myself permission to create the most supportive and loving postpartum environment possible. Frances is wise, sensitive, and caring. Not only is she a wonderful postpartum doula, she's a genuinely amazing person. Anyone would be lucky to work with her. Note: Frances is extremely Covid-safe and respectful of
Supporting a Big Sibling’s Adjustment
Frances Martin, MSW, PMH-CPostpartum doulas are available to support all family members in their adjustment after a new baby’s arrival, and that includes the adjustment of big siblings. A new baby creates changes to the whole family system and for each individual within the family. Having a sibling can bring so many positives into a child’s life that extend into adulthood. At the same time, the transition is always an adjustment and very often a bit of a bumpy one.Postpartum Doulas can support sibling adjustment in many ways! Here are a few:-Provide care for the baby to allow parents time to spend time with big siblings
-Involve big siblings in fun helping activities like cooking, changing sheets, or switching the laundry; or doulas can just spend some time connecting and playing with the older children
-Doulas can offer emotional support, build strategies, and help problem-solve adjustment challenges with parents/caregiversWe also have learned some helpful guideposts for caregivers along the way. Here are a few ideas to support the sibling transition:Welcome all feelings! Set clear boundaries on behavior. An older sibling may get creative and intense in their expressions of ambivalence or dislike for their new sibling. Rather than trying to convince them out of their feelings or scolding them for their feelings, welcome the feelings! Sharing these feelings with you is the healthiest thing your child can do, enabling them to “digest” and move through them. Be with them, acknowledge what they are sharing—this doesn’t mean that you agree with their feelings, just that you are validating that it is real for them. At the same time, create limits early and clearly by stopping unsafe behaviors. And as with all things parenting, this is of course easier said than done.Set up regular one-on-one special time. Try to carve out some one-on-one time for the big sibling(s), even just five minutes during caregiving times, where you are fully present, providing your full attention. It can help to have these at regular times—for example 5-10 minutes in the morning after breakfast and 5-10 minutes after dinner.Older children come first sometimes too. Periodically, tell the baby within earshot of the kids, “I will be with you in a minute; right now I am going to help your brother/sister/sibling.”Get creative for baby caregiving times. You may have a special toy basket or book on tape for older siblings that only comes out during baby feeding times and/or when getting the baby down for a nap. Some big siblings like to help out with baby caregiving; others not so much. Either way is A-OK.Avoid Comparisons. Even positive comparisons, which can feel good for a child in the moment, can set them up to feel like they are being evaluated against their sibling in the long run. Instead, celebrate your love for your child as an individual and reflect back to them the things you see them enjoying and working at.Reset Your Expectations. It won’t be all tea parties and roses between your kids. Your older child will sometimes wake up the baby. This really stinks to put it mildly. Minor injuries will be sustained. Not super fun. Strong words will be spoken (and screamed). These occurrences are hard. And they are also common and normal. The sweet moments of connection, play, and kindness will MELT your heart into a puddle. You’ve got this.Finally, BOOKS. Books can be such a helpful tool for the whole family. Here are a few of our favorites:
For caregivers: Siblings without Rivalry. A classic, for good reason!
For big siblings—here are three books that can normalize complicated feelings about the new baby: The New Small Person; Julius, the Baby of the World; Peter’s ChairWe’d love to hear your favorite children’s books pertaining to sibling adjustment!April 2022
Returning to Work after Baby
Frances Martin, MSW, CPDReturning to work after having a baby can be incredibly overwhelming. In a society where we are encouraged to “do it all”, it can often feel impossible to “do it all” well and also maintain necessary self-care. We’ve compiled our favorite tips and pointers below to help ease this transition. We also offer return-to-work sessions for those of you who need support while taking this big step - please reach out directly if this is of interest.Work-Life Balance
-Some balls are rubber and some are glass; it is OK and normal to drop balls, know which things can be let go if needed.
-“Balance” is dynamic and ever-changing.
-Firmly, intentionally scheduling time for yourself and time for your partnership. It may not be a lot at first, but it is an investment that can save you from burn out.Emotional Adjustment
-A very wide range of emotions (sometimes all at the same time, sometimes not the ones you expected) is normal. Be kind to yourself whatever feelings come up.
-There is no winning for moms in our culture; finding a sub-culture group of parents who help you feel affirmed and reassured.
-You may feel like a different employee than you did before and your work identity and relationship with your job may shift. That is OK!
-Don’t sell yourself short—moms have superpowers and make excellent employees and entrepreneurs.
-Emotional adjustment happens for babies too; they may have some feelings to share with you when they get home. This is healthy and very common.Evening & Morning Routines for success
-Create an evening and morning routine and possibly a physical checklist
-At least to start, aim to have everything that can be done in the evening done in the evening to minimize morning stress and forgetting items
-If possible, test out the morning routine a couple times as a trial run
-Add some buffer time in the morning if possibleFeeding baby while you’re away
-If you are breastfeeding, try starting to pump here and there a week or two before you go back to work in case it takes a bit for you to catch up to baby’s feedings with pump sessions when you head back to work.
-Check out this calculator, which can help you estimate how much milk to send
-Pumping is a big job! Be kind to yourself as you learn how to fit this into your day. Try to avoid skipping pump times and keep the environment as relaxing as possible to boost oxytocin.
-If formula feeding, make sure you understand day care policies and general recommendations on formula storage.
-Since neither breastmilk nor formula can be re-used after it’s initially heated and/or offered to baby, consider starting with a larger quantity of smaller bottles and work your way up to understand how much baby will take per bottle, whole reducing wasted milk.Resources
-Kelly Mom: https://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/ and https://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/milkstorage/milkstorage/
Navigating relationships and boundaries during the postpartum period
Kirby Paterson, LMSW, PMH-C, CPDBringing a new baby home is an exciting time for all family members. This excitement can sometimes make for difficult situations with well-meaning friends and family. As you settle in to life with a new baby, you can keep the following in mind when it comes to navigating relationships with friends and family:Unfortunately, having a baby likely won’t change pre-existing dynamics. Perhaps you have difficulty saying “no” to a specific family member, or feel like said family member oversteps frequently. It’s important to remember that any pre-existing dynamics will likely not disappear once your baby arrives - in fact, these dynamics are often heightened in the context of a big change, like having a baby.Boundaries has nothing to do with your love for a friend or family member. Sometimes, those boundaries are actually an act of love - a way to continue on a meaningful relationship with someone who, without the presence of boundaries, may be more difficult to maintain a relationship with.Keep in mind that the overall goal in those early days is to bond with your baby and adjust to your new family dynamics. This involves taking time to rest, eat nutritious food, and be with your partner, new baby, and other children if you have them. While prioritizing yourself and your new family may feel counterintuitive to you, making sure you have the time and space you need in this special time will benefit everyone (you, your baby, your partner and your extended family) in the long run!Consider using the “connect first, redirect second” strategy. This involves taking a moment to connect with yourself to ask what is feeling right for you in the moment before redirecting the request. An example of this might be an extended family member asking “can we come visit at 3pm tomorrow?” In this scenario, consider slowing down and taking a moment to think about what that would mean to you. Is 3pm a reasonable time for you? Would it help to set a time limit such as 3pm-4pm so you don’t become overextended? Once you can clarify what feels right for you and your family, you can redirect your request. An example of this would be “We would love to see you tomorrow, 3pm until 4pm works for us!”We understand that navigating relationships during this time can be difficult. A postpartum doula can be someone to bounce ideas off of, and someone to help you fine-tune what feels right for your family during the postpartum period. If you’re interested in learning more about navigating interpersonal boundaries, check out the podcast below!Therapist Uncensored Podcast: TU 81 with special guest Juliane Taylor Shore significantly influenced this post
Frances Martin, MSW, CPDThe most important, and really only, rule to follow around postpartum food choices is to eat what brings you comfort, peace, and joy. Oxytocin—the love hormone—is essential to bonding, breastfeeding, and postpartum healing; enjoying delicious, nourishing foods is a wonderful way to boost oxytocin. After navigating all the confusing food rules and restrictions of pregnancy, take a breath and delight in foods that make you feel happy and loved!With that said, there are some gentle guidelines that can support a return to strong digestion and feeling healthy and grounded during this time of major transition.Quantity & Frequency: Childbirth and breastfeeding are energy-intensive, and require a lot of caloric intake. We hear from many moms—and we can verify ourselves—that pregnancy hunger pales in comparison to breastfeeding hunger. As hard as it can be to carve out the time and space, we recommend eating regularly, having nourishing snacks handy, and not restricting the amount of food you eat. Listen to your body’s cues, and satiate your hunger for you and your baby’s sake—growing and healing is hard work!Digestion: After labor, digestion is often very weak and slow. To gently help your body recover and rebuild digestive capacity, it is supportive to eat soft, warm, well-cooked, even oily foods. Traditional cultures worldwide focus on these qualities in postpartum foods. Simple soups and stews are ideal. Spices, like ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and many others, can help make foods even more digestible and delicious.A helpful concept is to think about the first foods we typically serve babies—soft, well- cooked root veggies, like carrots and sweet potatoes; avocado; cooked zucchini; stewed fruit; watery well-cooked rice, like in rice puddings and congee; simple oatmeal. All of these are given to babies when they start solids because they are easy to digest. This makes them great choices for postpartum parents also!Lean into your Village: Feeding, caring for, and bonding with a newborn is an all-consuming (and more) job. If there is ever a time to accept help and receive the care of your community, it is now. Organizing a MealTrain or similar meal sign-up can make all the difference for a new family. It can be less formal as well; just practice saying YES when someone offers to bring a meal and suggesting this to those who ask how they can help. We realize everyone’s circumstances and preferences are different here, but consider how you might broaden your comfort zone and circle of support. When new parents are well nourished and cared for, they can best provide that nourishment and care for their baby.Many new parents worry about the impact of their diet on their baby. In general, if you are eating a well-balanced diet, you will be giving your baby all that they need. If you have specific concerns—for example, a colicky baby—it can be helpful to explore dietary changes with a licensed professional, such as your pediatrician, a nutritionist, or a lactation consultant.There, of course, is much (much!) more that can be said on this topic and many nuances we haven’t covered here. If you are interested in learning more or getting support to set up a postpartum plan, we have listed some resources below, and would love to be in touch!The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou
Nourishing Newborn Mothers: Ayurvedic Recipes to Heal Your Mind, Body, and Soul After Childbirth by Julia Jones. Note: The Newborn Mothers Collective training program, as well as the information in this book, significantly informed the writing of this post
Doula work in the time of COVID-19
Kirby Paterson, LMSW, PMH-C, CPDHaving a new baby can be overwhelming and isolating without the added stress of a pandemic. While many parents may have accessed support through parenting groups, library storytime, or having family come to stay for a while, these may not feel like accessible options in the setting of COVID-19. Thinking about arranging these supports and activities may even bring on feelings of stress and self-doubt instead of excitement or relief. As postpartum doulas, our role is to bring support to you in the most safe and reassuring way possible. We view our role as even more crucial during this time. In order to provide the safest care for our clients, we are taking the following precautions:1. Taking a limited number of clients at a time in order to limit exposure
2. Having ongoing open conversation about precautions at the time of the initial consultation
3. Exploring virtual support and contactless meal prep as options
4. Masking during visits
Immediate hand washing upon arrival and frequent hand washing throughout the visit
5. Keeping you informed of COVID-19 symptoms for our familiesBoth of our postpartum practitioners have experience navigating virtual doula support and are happy to pivot to a virtual format whenever needed.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your anticipated needs and I will reach out to discuss next steps. If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com or 734.623.9504.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself and I will reach out to discuss next steps. If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734.623.9504.
We look forward to speaking with you soon!
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