On today's episode, Rebekah shares the story of her twins' birth at home. Rebekah is the coordinator of chaos in her south-of-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home. She and her husband, along with 4 children and two dogs live together in her late grandfathers home. Before she became a mom, she received her Masters Degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and worked at a local hospital as an exercise specialist in the cardiac rehab unit. Rebekah has taken that passion for exercise, holistic health and faith, and transformed it into something she is able to do in conjunction with being a stay-at-home mom. She uses her passion to fuel others through her personal training and fitness ministry. In her spare time, if she gets any, she enjoys weight training, attending bible studies, and being creative. You can read her entire birth story on her Facebook page under the name: Rebekah Ashley and also on Instagram: @rebekahashley
Pheonix shares a little bit about her 27 hour labor and birth. "My birth was pure chaos. Everything that I didn't plan to happen, was manifested to the tenth degree. With no knowledge of the inner meditation and control required of childbirth, I found myself relying on my midwife, partner and family to help usher in the birth of my son. Little did I know that the journey was only for me to take. My birth experience was this way though for a purpose. As a reminder to mamas everywhere to OWN their birth. To SILENCE their voices and tune into the new soul awaiting its earthbound entrance. Even in the midst of chaos, the journey was bliss. And I wouldn't change it for the world."
After an especially tough pregnancy, Megan was more than ready to welcome her third daughter into the world. Being that this was her third child, she went into this sure of two things: this child will be born on or before her due date (like her older sisters) and this mama definitely wanted an epidural. It wasn't until she found herself 4 days past her due date without a sign of labor that she started to suspect that this birth might not go as planned. Little did she know that was only the beginning.
A self-described "professional Type-A planner," Courtney feels she spent "too many hours" crafting the "perfect" birth plan... only to toss it out the window during labor and delivery. At 38 weeks, after learning Jackson was breech, and that she was Group B positive and only dilated .5CM, Courtney scheduled an induction for 40W6D; but, she went into labor 1.5 days before induction day.
At the hospital, Courtney learned that meconium in her fluid would require a NICU team at birth; and, while Jackson had turned, he was still in the occiput posterior position. Eventually, after several hours on Pitocin, Courtney's amniotic sac had resealed (which required an amnio-hook) and her contractions were ineffective, causing her cervix to swell and making the situation potentially dangerous for mama and baby.
After taking what she describes as "hit after hit," her birth story ends via C-section, including a failed epidural and hemorrhage. She and Wes welcomed baby Jackson at 8:38PM... 8 minutes after her previously scheduled induction time.
During postpartum, Courtney struggled with breastfeeding Jackson, and made the very difficult decision to stop after a few weeks. She also experienced intense postpartum anxiety for which she eventually (around 6 months pp) sought professional help through her Primary Care Provider and licensed therapist. During this time, Courtney relied on the tremendous amount of support she received from her husband, family, friends, and even her client, Sarah, who candidly shared her own new motherhood stories and encouraged Courtney to make the best decisions for her and her family. Today, about a month shy of Jackson's first birthday, Courtney has established her "new normal" and couldn't imagine life without the stubborn, giggly, busy little boy she made.
Professionally, Courtney is one of the voices behind Sarah Wells Bags as Sarah's primary marketing consultant. She loves supporting other new mamas in their breastfeeding and pumping journeys, wherever (and for however long) it may take them, and can't get enough new baby pics. Feel free to reach out to her anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before she met her midwife, Jessey assumed that her births would be long and full of complications. However, once she switched to a certified nurse midwife practice to birth at the hospital her goals were changed and fears diminished. Jessey has 3 births that all went smoothly with only a couple of minor exceptions. Each time Jessey's waters were broken there was meconium in the fluid, which caused last minute changes to the water births she had planned. With her first daughter the tub was used for laboring (but not delivery), at her second daughter's birth there was not time to fill the tub upon arrival, and her third daughter's birth was technically in the tub, but not without a (literal) twist!
Rachel experienced a peaceful, unmedicated hospital birth with her now 14 month old son, Ananias. She was surprised to encounter so much support and encouragement from the doctors and nursing staff to accomplish a drug-free labor. Even though the seamless delivery left her feeling strong and empowered, her confidence was shaken as her son battled severe jaundice in the days following the birth due to her delayed milk supply. Thankfully, after a 48-hour NICU stay, Ananias came home healthy and happy. Rachel hopes to encourage other women through her story by revealing the potential beauty of hospital birth and by opening up about an issue many new mothers are ashamed to be facing - low milk supply.
Chylanne's pregnancy began with a hope for a natural home waterbirth but quickly turned into copious amounts of research and a panic to find someone to deliver her breech baby. She feels that she went from one end of the spectrum to the completee opposite; ending with a c-section. She says she didn’t enjoy being pregnant and was really looking forward to feeling redeemed through birth. She went through a grieving process when she found out her daughter, Mila, was breech because she felt like everything she wanted out of birth was ripped away from her. Chylanne says it was hard coming to terms with the potential of having to have a c-section, but after trying and doing everything she could and having lots of support from those that loved her (like her amazing friend, Jana, who has also gone through a natural birth and c-sections) she was able to feel the validation that she needed from her birthing experience.
Alexis' first labor with her son started with her water breaking, and contractions were close together and difficult to manage. She ended up with an epidural as she was near the end and feeling the urge to push! She ended up tearing from that birth in an unusual way. Her most recent birth was just 3 weeks ago with her daughter. She chose a birth center the second time, and her labor went completely differently. The labor was amazing the second time around with a short and intense pushing phase. Connect with Alexis via Kansas City Doulas.
Chelsea and Clayton began trying to conceive in early 2014, before undergoing 2 rounds of IVF in 2015 that resulted in two pregnancy losses including their first son, Colt, who passed at 16 weeks gestation. Upon return from a belated honeymoon, they were delighted to find out they were pregnant without any medical intervention. Chelsea wished to give birth at a local Birth Center, but her plans changed due to high blood pressure. She was induced at 37 weeks and had an epidural-free labor and birth at a local hospital attended by her midwife and doula. Following a 10-day NICU stay, Chelsea and Clayton's son was finally welcomed home.
I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant when I went into labor. Just one day prior, My daughter's father and I went to my mother's house to go to the state fair. I was so over being pregnant, I decided to walk the baby out. I went into labor early that morning around 2 AM. Thankfully, I slept through most of my labor and the next morning we took the two hour drive back to Atlanta. I stayed home until 7 PM then labored naturally at the hospital before giving birth.
Bethany Chambers planned for a home birth but ended up transferring to the hospital at the end of her 24 hour labor due to decelerating heart rates from her baby. Once at the hospital, she still had an un-medicated, no intervention birth. However, 8 hours later, she had a severe hemorrhage and lost about half her blood. But as a nutritionist, she had worked hard to ensure her body was in optimal health so miraculously, she didn't have to have any blood transfusions. She discusses the MTHFR gene mutation as a possible factor in the hemorrhage. She came away from her birth feeling very grateful and empowered.
Rachel Wilber is a criminal defense attorney, alongside her husband of four years, in private practice. Three years ago she quit her job as a public defender to pursue health and wellness, in part because she was having difficulty conceiving. Intuitively, she knew that stress was likely contributing to her infertility, and that she needed to create balance in her life if becoming a mother was to become a reality. After three years of infertility struggles (including surgery, procedures, four rounds of IUI, and three rounds of IVF) Rachel finally became pregnant with her daughter.
She had a healthy and complication-free pregnancy, which slowly re-instilled the confidence she had in her body. Despite being advised against giving birth outside the hospital due to a scar on her uterus, she chose a birth-center at 32 weeks pregnant. After years of medical interventions to achieve pregnancy, her natural water-birth was the empowering, gentle, and healing experience she had hoped for. You can read more about Rachel’s infertility journey and her life as a mom to her daughter and two Great Danes at www.twodanesandababy.com or on Instagram @rachwilber.
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 3 years of testing and fertility treatments, Mary Kate and Brad were excited to find out that their second IUI attempt was successful! On November 16, 2016, after 31 hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing, baby Reid was born. Mary Kate was able to get through her long labor by using the hypnobirthing techniques she learned during her pregnancy. At the end of the labor, vacuum extraction was required to give Mary Kate the ability to give birth vaginally. While she was overjoyed and in love with her new baby boy, Mary Kate discovered that she had suffered a 4th degree tear during labor. Mary Kate knew that this serious tear could lead to a difficult recovery, but a week later she developed another complication known as a rectovaginal fistula. Three weeks after the birth of her baby, Mary Kate underwent surgery to repair the fistula.
After 2 very long and early hospital births with CNM's, Hannah and her husband, Gabriel, prepared for their first birth center birth. After early labor threatened at 28 weeks, she transferred back to her hospital midwifery team, trying everything to keep her 3rd pregnancy from turning into another preterm birth. After many medications and trips to L&D, her little third baby decided to take his time after all. 2 weeks of prodromal labor ended in a lightning fast delivery on the side of the highway at 39 weeks. They chose a home birth for baby 4 and had another precipitous labor and birth supported by midwives.
Julie Martin is a wife and homeschooling mother of 4 precious babies. Her first baby was born ten years ago, very unexpectedly, at 30 weeks by c-section; and, he spent two months in the NICU. Despite trying all the natural remedies and labor stalling methods, each subsequent baby was also born prematurely (33,33, and 32 weeks) by c-section, and each spent a month in the NICU as well. Never imagining being a c-section or NICU mommy, Julie has a heart to encourage women who have had birth experiences that just don't turn out like they anticipate.
Katie had a very fast, unmedicated (due to time and low-platelets) hospital birth with an OB. She had the support of her mother and her husband. Though she prepared for labor with classes at a birth center, there was never a chance to use the techniques in the three hours she labored.
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Sarah Daggett had 3 very positive unmedicated hospital births with her OB and a doula. She struggled with low supply when breastfeeding and was eventually diagnosed with mammary hypoplasia, which is a condition she didn't know about before her diagnosis. Connect with her on Instagram at @welcometoourmess.
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As a girl who said she never wanted kids and never imagined having or holding her own baby, Andrea was delightfully and profoundly surprised by the miracle that is pregnancy and motherhood. After the shock of missing her first period turned into blissful anticipation, she approached pregnancy and birth as though she was training for the most important athletic event of her life. Her baby, Montana, entered the world quickly and beautifully, in the comfort and warmth of their own home.
Jen planned a hospital birth with a midwife and was disappointed: after being told that her baby was in the single footling breech position, she found herself in the operating room after many months of envisioning a normal labor and delivery. She had a very painful recovery and knew she didn’t want to just schedule a cesarean for her next baby.
Her OB/GYN was very supportive, and assured her that she was an excellent VBAC candidate since she had her cesarean for breech. But when she went out into the world, many friends and family members could not believe that she would consider a VBAC, which led her to do tons of research and develop VBAC Facts. In this episode she shares her cesarean and VBAC birth stories as well as some really great information around VBACs in general!
Christine switched from a hospital OB/GYN birth to a midwife home birth at 32 weeks. She swam throughout her pregnancy, using that time to mentally prepare for labor. Christine was in active labor for 5 hours and pushed for 30 minutes. Her husband was the first to pick up their son, placing him directly on Christine for immediate skin to skin. Christine received one small natural tear and did not require stitches.
After 3 IUI’s and on her 3rd round of IVF Jenica became pregnant! She will never forget the incredible happiness when the blood test came back positive. At 10 weeks, she found out she was having twins! Along with pregnancy came morning sickness, discomfort, cankles, and long nights! But gratitude overwhelmed every emotion for Jenica as her dream of becoming a mother had finally become a reality. Her boy and girl twins had to be delivered at 32 weeks because of Preeclampsia. Harris came first and then Goldie! Her first weeks as a mother included her and her husband Tyler visiting their sweet little ones in the NICU every day. After 5 weeks in the NICU the family of four was able to all go home together!
Same-sex couple Mariel and Viviana knew they always wanted a baby; so, a year into their marriage they began trying to conceive by the traditional route of IUI's with frozen sperm via a sperm bank. After nearly a dozen failed tries, they switched gears to a known-donor and were quickly pregnant. Early on in Viviana's pregnancy she began having complications, and on the same day of her anatomy scan at 20 weeks and 6 days, Viviana's water bag prolapsed and broke. Tune in to hear the details of their devastating infant loss due to incompetent cervix and the redemption story of their boy/girl rainbow babies conceived within 7 days of each other and born only three days apart. Follow their journey on Instagram at @moderndaytwins.
Lida battled chronic pain throughout her teens and twenties, and underwent laparoscopic surgery at age 24 to remove adhesions caused by endometriosis. In order to inhibit the disease's progression and to preserve her fertility, Lida took continuous hormonal birth control until she and her husband were ready to begin trying to conceive. The endometriosis started to return immediately, but with the help of a minor fertility intervention, Lida was able to conceive after only seven months.
In spite of being a Large Animal Veterinarian (Board Certified in Animal ObGyn) and a Reproductive Physiologist studying human fertility, Dr. Joanna Ellington was surprised when the flu threw off her ovulation cycle and an unplanned pregnancy occurred. Using excellent classic references like Active Birth and Spiritual Midwifery, Joanna used perineal massage to prepare for childbirth, and was maybe a little too active with a 2 mile hike that turned into 5 miles the day before her membranes began leaking. An induction resulted in a normal birth where Joanna used her knowledge of birth and lactation in animals to enjoy the process as much as possible, even telling her midwife “That was kind of fun!”
Joanna's second son was born within 10 minutes after she arrived at the hospital. In the chaos and discomfort of having two male doctors she had never met working on her son and her private parts, Joanna coped by switching into “medical professional mode" and talking to them about her research. But, she lost her focus on her baby and the moment. Sadly, she forgot to invite her waiting son and mother in to see the birth, as she had planned. This was a valuable lesson of not “taking care of others” or outwardly focusing during birth, but staying centered and baby focused.