After suffering from an autoimmune condition most of her life, Caroline approached pregnancy with trepidation, initially unsure she would be able to successfully conceive. After becoming pregnant in Fall 2016, her initial elation gave way to concern when a 12 week scan revealed her son was suffering from a condition called megacystis. When not resolved in utero, megacystis proves fatal. Careful monitoring continued until 24 weeks when she was finally given the "all clear" to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Meeting with a doula around the same time gave Caroline and her husband, Brett, the confidence to pursue a homebirth; and, despite insurance difficulties, they secured the services of an incredible homebirth midwife.
At 38 weeks, Caroline’s waters broke and after an intense but pain free night (thanks hypnobirthing!) her son was born after a posterior labor in the bedroom of their home. When her placenta tore after delivery, Caroline was transferred to the local hospital for a D&C where her impeccable care continued.
Sofia shares her experience with the maternity health care system in India as well as her dissatisfaction with her birth experiences and finally the amazing postpartum care she received from family.
In this episode January Harshe shares her first four birth stories: a cesarean, a homebirth transfer to cesarean, a hospital VBAC after being dropped from care by her homebirth midwife, and a very healing unassisted homebirth. You can hear her 5th and 6th birth stories on her podcast that she hosts with her husband, The Harshe Podcast.
After a 20 hour labor, Liesel delivered her son epidural-free at the hospital (and department) where she worked. Liesel battled an OP presentation during labor, with her biggest hurdle being back labor. She stuck it out at home until she was 5cm dilated, and then got admitted to the hospital where she had her doctor break her water. After many position changes, a few doses of IV pain medication, and pushing on hands and knees, she was able to successfully vaginally deliver her son epidural-free. She prepared for her birth by reading countless birth stories, interviewing her co-workers, and studying “Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth”.
Gaela delivered both of her babies in Paris, France. For her first birth, Gaela took HypnoBirthing, the Mongan Method classes, which got her incredibly excited to give birth. She labored at home and kept waiting for the pain to arrive and it never did. Her daughter was born 47 minutes after Gaela arriving at the maternity ward in a birth tub with hardly any water in it! Gaela became a HypnoBirthing instructor after her daughter’s birth. She gave birth to her son 23 months later in a birth center. She was able to deploy all of the techniques that she teaches in order to stay focused and have a peaceful birth. She was able to “breathe” her baby down and have him auto-latch during the sacred hour. She had two distinct yet wildly empowering childbirth experiences.
Mabel is 31 years old and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Tim, and son, Darasimi. She married her college sweetheart in 2013 and the couple decided to wait for a year before actively trying to get pregnant. After learning she had fibroids shortly after she started her TTC journey, Mabel decided to have a laparoscopic myomectomy done to remove multiple fibroids from within her uterine wall. The journey to get pregnant continued on for another 2 years before she got a positive pregnancy test which was a both a surprise and relief. She had a relatively smooth pregnancy with a few hiccups which included fibroid degeneration and gestational diabetes. Her son was born vaginally in a hospital in September 2018 after a 36 hour labor.
Mabel works as an education specialist for her local school county and enjoys spending time with her close circle of family and friends and learning about birth work. She is also a new doula, ready to support women in advocating for their desires regarding birth and pregnancy. You can find her on Instagram @mabedababe (personal) and @withinherbirth (doula business).
Clarice Amorim Freitas was planning to give birth at a birth center, but at 37 weeks was diagnosed with intra-uterine growth restriction and needed to be induced immediately. They were in the hospital for 39 hours before their little one was born via vaginal birth. The hospital and birth center staff were both incredibly supportive and they had a very positive experience despite the abrupt change of plans. They were able to continue their postpartum care through the birth center even though they did not physically deliver their baby there.
On this episode, Neram discusses giving birth in Amsterdam as well as Bogata, Columbia, where she was encouraged to enjoy weeks of postpartum rest and care.
Rachel had always envisioned herself having an unmedicated home or birth center birth, but when she found out she was considered high risk she knew that wouldn’t be possible. So, she and her fiancé hired a doula and chose a hospital and team that best fit their birth wishes. Rachel delivered her daughter vaginally and unmedicated 3 weeks early and just 14 hours after arriving at the hospital! As smooth as her pregnancy and delivery went, she’s still dealing with some unexpected postpartum complications 3 months later.
Kelle shares the story of her daughter Nella's birth. Nella was born with Down Syndrome unexpectedly, so it obviously came as a huge shock to Kelle. Kelle is open about her grief surrounding that initial news. She talks about those first days in the hospital and how little she knew about Down Syndrome before her daughter was born. Her daughter Nella is seven today, and Kelle looks back on her birth story with a lot of emotion, sharing how her family and friends supported her through that time, and how she offers hope to mothers who contact her today when they get a Down Syndrome diagnosis. I loved this episode not only because Kelle tells it so beautifully, but also because I personally was very uninformed about Down Syndrome and learned a lot through her story.
When I got the following message from Danielle Knapp, I was brought to tears knowing the affect that this podcast had had on her unexpected birth experience and knew I had to have her on the show! In this episode she shares her experience giving birth while drive down the interstate.
Good afternoon, Bryn.
I just wanted to send you a note to let you know how impactful your podcast was for me!! I listened to your empowering birth stories almost everyday during my third trimester. I laughed and cried and clung to the hopes that I too would have an empowering birth. My first birth was in the hospital and it was 31 hours. An epidural in the last 3 hours after a goal of all natural. I felt defeated and 'less than' bc I couldn't do it.... Well, I gave birth almost three weeks ago to my second daughter. My plan was a to have a peaceful water birth at the Austin Birthing Center. Baby had other plans. I ended up delivering her myself... in the car... on the highway, while my husband was speeding to try to get us to the birthing center on time. I didn't even tell him bc I was afraid he would pull over or crash or I don't even know. I just quietly pulled her up on the back bench of our expedition. I feel like the collective confidence I absorbed through all those women's stories is why it happened the way it did. I was never fearful, and even in the most absurd circumstances, it was still a calm and peaceful experience for both me and my daughter. And best of all, I feel so empowered from the experience.
So thank you for doing what you do! I really am not sure how I would have handled a precipitous birth and highway delivery had I not had all those beautiful women on my mind!
The Knapp's welcomed their first daughter, Piper Clementine on January 20th, 2013. It was a grueling 31 hour labor. Looking for a different experience, Danielle planned to give birth at The Austin Area Birthing Center for baby girl number two. After a precipitous birth, Posey James was born in the car, northbound on Interstate 35 on the way to the birth center in Austin.
After a long pregnancy battling severe hyperemesis gravidarum, Hannah gave birth to her first son in a birth center at nearly 41 weeks. Ten months later, she became pregnant again, this time with a set of twins! Despite living in a state that considers twins to be a "high-risk" pregnancy, they were able to work with an OBGYN and midwife team to deliver their babies out-of-hospital. She carried her twins for 38+5 weeks until her water broke and they shot out of her body in just 1.5 hours! Hannah struggled with breastfeeding all of her children, due to tongue-ties and tight jaws. She was forced to exclusively pump with her son, but was able to breastfeed her twins successfully after a difficult 3 month journey working with a lactation consultant and occupational therapist.
LC gave birth to her first child on Feb. 22, 2017 (her four year wedding anniversary)! After a complicated pregnancy involving blood thinners, gestational diabetes, and a degenerating fibroid that landed her in the hospital at twenty weeks, LC still hoped to have as natural a hospital birth as possible. Her hopes were dashed when she realized she would need to be induced; but, she was not expecting all the ways that her birth story would ultimately surprise her! After slowly progressing for the first eight to ten hours, she quickly progressed from a 3 to a 10 in only 90 minutes - so soon, in fact, that her husband almost missed the birth when he stepped out to grab a snack!
LC is a writer, activist, and entrepreneur residing in Columbus, OH. She is the founder of Zora's House - the first coworking and community space created by and for women of color in Ohio. In her spare time (what does that even mean?!) LC enjoys reading, watching HGTV, and hanging out at local breweries with her dog, hubby, and two year old son. Connect with her on Instagram at @no1doesitlikelc
Both of Charity’s babies were born in the UK. After excitedly planing for an unmedicated hospital birth centre birth, Charity had to quickly change her expectations when she was told her baby would be delivered via cesarean section. Her body and baby disagreed with the doctor, and her son was born vaginally on the operating table as preparations were being made for surgery. For her second birth, Charity was determined to have a greater ability to advocate for herself and her baby, so she and her husband hired private midwives to help deliver the baby at home. Her second son was born in a birthing tub in the living room of her small flat in central London.
On this episode, Mika shares her three homebirth stories and discusses the importance of advocating for yourself.
Heather shares her experience laboring and pushing at home, until her midwife noticed her baby's heart tones were not recovering after contractions while Heather pushed. She was rushed to the hospital, and the ER doctor on call gave her one chance to push with forceps before taking her in for a cesarean birth. Her son was born with that one push and she describes her hospital experience as being very positive. They spent one night at the hospital before heading home.
Katie trained to be a doula 6 months before becoming unexpectedly pregnant on her honeymoon. She always knew she wanted an unmedicated vaginal birth, and switched care providers from an OB practice to a birth center at 30 weeks. She and her husband took hypnobirthing classes while she was pregnant, and they hired their hypnobirthing instructor as a doula. Though labor and birth didn’t progress as she had imagined (does it ever?), she achieved the goal of bringing her baby into the world in a peaceful, sacred, empowering environment, surrounded by love. You can watch her birth video here.
Meg gave birth to her first child at 40w5d on May 15th. After her water broke and labor progressed she experienced over 3 hours of pushing culminating with assistance of a vacuum to help deliver him. Going in without a birth plan and not knowing what to expect, this labor was quite traumatic and postpartum recovery was difficult.
Danielle spent her pregnancy reading Ina May Gaskin's seminal texts on natural labor and envisioned having a peaceful, drug-free delivery. Once she crossed the 41-week mark of her pregnancy, Danielle's doctors began talking to her about scheduling an induction. Hopeful that she would go into labor naturally, Danielle begged her doctors to let her go as long as possible to avoid an induction. After some negotiation, they collectively landed on a scheduled induction at 42 weeks. Still convinced she would go into labor naturally, Danielle tried everything to induce. But nothing worked. At 42 weeks, Danielle was induced by her doctor and labored for 13 hours. In the end, her labor was anything but drug-free, but it was somewhat peaceful. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Quinnah.
After every effort to have a holistic, uninterrupted pregnancy and birth, Arielle was induced at 41 weeks due to low amniotic fluid. She went through ten hours of unmedicated labour using hypnobabies techniques and the support of her husband, when her water broke at 9.5 centimeters. When her water broke, the umbilical cord prolapsed and her daughter was delivered by emergency cesarean.
Sarah returns to share the birth of her second child.
Sarah gave birth to Braxton Rainwater on July 15th, 2018 at 4:36 a.m., after almost 27 hours of unmedicated labor. Braxton was born at 40 weeks and 5 days gestation. Sarah started labor at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Contractions faded in and out all day Saturday, and active labor started at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Sarah met her midwife (Stephanie) at the hospital around 8:00 p.m. Labor moved slowly, only progressing a centimeter every few hours. Her waters broke at 12:30 a.m. and Braxton was born at 4:36 a.m.
Sarah was able to labor however she needed, utilizing the birth ball, bathtub, and shower. The nursing staff was amazingly supportive of Sarah’s birth wishes and cheered her on every step of the way!
After Shannon found out she was pregnant with her first, there was no question that she wanted an unmedicated, untouched birth. The questions were: where, and with who.
Lindsey shares her birth center, hospital, and homebirth stories ... and about having twins TWICE! Lindsey Bliss is the co-director of Carriage House Birth, an experienced birth doula, and the mother of seven. Lindsey is considered to be a multiples expert after giving birth to and parenting two consecutive sets of twins. Lindsey takes on her role as a birth doula and childbirth educator with serious passion and commitment. Her mission is to hold space for expectant families through education and informed decision making. Being prepared, and knowing what options are available increases the likelihood of an amazing birth. Lindsey facilitates that process, giving people the tools and inspiration to empower themselves. Her unwavering support and gentle guidance have benefited over two hundred families. Lindsey supports first time parents, multiparas, single parents, LGBT families, twins births, medicated and non medicated vaginal births, cesarean births, and VBACs.
Rachel shares her experiences preparing for and giving birth at home, as well as her struggles with breastfeeding and low milk supply, and using a supplemental nursing system with both of her sons. Looking back, she wishes she had gone easier on herself and wants to let other mothers know that they are doing great.
After initially planning on receiving an epidural (due to fear of pain), L’America researched and decided to prepare for a natural, water birth instead. Her fear of pain was overshadowed by her fear of needles, delivery interventions, and the potential lingering effects on mother and child. By using alternative pain management options (nitrous oxide, hydrotherapy, birthing ball, counter-pressure, and aromatherapy) and having a very supportive birthing team, L’America had a 17-hour natural labor and delivery (which included only 28 minutes of pushing) without any complications!