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!
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.
Today's guest shares her experience giving birth in a hospital under the care of a midwife.
Christina Libby lives in Frankfort, KY with her husband, 15 month old son, Great Dane, and 2 cats. Christina has always been fascinated by pregnancy, birth, and babies. Growing up, her mother babysat in their home and she loved helping her—as she got older, she knew she wanted to work with young children and parents but never quite found a career path that felt like it fit. Into adulthood, she was always interested (sometimes overly interested) in her pregnant friends’ bellies, and was envious of everyone who got to attend a childbirth education class. She says that it wasn’t just that she wanted to eventually be a mother; she loved the whole process. She wanted to live in the world of bellies, birth, and babies. Through her own pregnancy and birth she entered that world and discovered she could stay as a doula.
In her own words, Christina shares a bit about her experience as a doula participating in the world of birth: "I find that as a new birth worker I tell the story of how I came to birth work quite lot. But I try to keep my birth story out of my birth worker story as much as possible. I don’t want my clients to feel compelled to compare their story to mine or to worry that I am judging them based on my birth. And since I can’t control people’s thoughts (yet…), an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping my birth out of the picture helps both of us keep the focus on the birthing person and what they want. However, I also feel very strongly about people sharing their birth stories. Especially in our society where so much fear and negativity surround birth and positive birth stories are seen as exceptions or “lucky” or shouted down as bragging or preaching. All we can do is speak from a place of compassion and authenticity. This is my experience."
Lizzie Mills, is a young wife and mother from Melbourne, Australia who is passionate about birth and shares the birth story of her daughter who was born at home via a hospital sponsored homebirthing program with midwives. In this episode she discusses how this system worked as well as how her pregnancy went and ultimately the amazing waterbirth she had with her husband in the tub as support.
Lauren Hartmann shared her daughter's birth center birth and her son's homebirth on Episode 11 of The Birth Hour. Her son Clive's birth was 19 hours long with 4 hours of pushing and he weighed over 10.5 pounds with a 15 inch head! After Clive's birth Lauren felt defeated and didn't have that same sense of empowerment that she did after her first birth. When she found out she was expecting baby number three, she knew that giving birth at home no longer felt right to her after what she had been through with Clive's birth. She explored possibly giving birth at a hospital but didn't appreciate the model of care there so she ended up going back to the birth center where she had had such a beautiful birth with her daughter, Fern.
Despite a very stressful pregnancy where she and her husband were informed half way through that their daughter had some soft markers for Downs Syndrome, Lauren made it to her due date and was ready to meet their baby girl. She tells this third birth story as being redemptive in so many ways and restoring her beliefs about birth.
Today's birth story features Denene Millner, who is sharing her experience giving birth to her daughter at a teaching hospital in Harlem, NY. Denene had a doctor that she loved, the support of her husband and made plans ahead of time for what she thought would be a great hospital birth experience. Unfortunately, she was treated like a second class citizen for the majority of her time at the hospital. In this episode, she shares her story and discusses some of the issues that many black women face when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth in America.
Today's guest is Jamie Ivey who is sharing her birth story and three adoption stories. Her son Cayden was born in a hospital and while it was a good experience overall, Jamie says if she were to get pregnant again today, she would've done some things differently. Jamie felt strongly that she and her husband should adopt a baby not too long after Cayden was born and went down the path of domestic adoption to welcome their second son, Deacon. They adopted Deacon as a newborn and were present at the hospital for his birth. Jamie talks about how she planned to practice adoptive breastfeeding with Deacon and although he did latch on right away, it ultimately wasn't feasible long term with what was going on with their family at the time.
A few years later they felt called to adopt again and this time internationally from Haiti. The adoption process was much longer than they had initially anticipated and while they were matched with two children fairly quickly the finalization of the adoptions was a complicated and a long process. Jamie and her husband, Aaron, took turns visiting their kids in Haiti but it got harder and harder on both them and their children each time they had to say goodbye. Their daughter, Story, ended up coming home before their son, Amos even though they had been living together with the same family in Haiti.
Things changed suddenly when the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti and after being relieved of the initial concern of whether Amos was safe, they quickly found out that his adoption was going to be allowed to be finalized here in the States and that after 2.5 years of waiting, he'd be coming home to them immediately and their family would finally all be together. Watch this beautiful video to see them travel to Florida to bring him home and listen to Jamie's episode of The Birth Hour to hear her tell the entire story.
Elizabeth Quinn is married to Percy and they are raising their children in Jackson, Mississippi. Her daughters are Chesley Cox, 7 years old, Anderson Lillian ‘Anders’ 5 years old, and Adella Calhoon 2.5 years old and they just had baby number four — a son, Sims McCallum! Elizabeth Quinn returns to The Birth Hour to share her most recent birth story with baby Sims. Elizabeth had two cesareans and then a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and is really involved in the birth community in Jackson. She is super passionate about being educated about birth and helping women who have had c sections to know their options.
Today's birth story podcast guest shares how she planned ahead for her hospital birth by doing research, setting intentions and hiring a doula. Kristin's number one goal was not to have a cesarean and she educated herself on many of the ways to avoid a c secti0n and used that knowledge to self advocate with the help of her doula throughout her labor that lasted over 24 hours.
In today's birth story episode, Barbara Demske shares her experience having a cesarean and then a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with her next baby. Her cesarean was a really traumatic experience which she feared for her life during and after suffering through that, she knew she wanted to have a VBAC.
Today's guest is Katrina Meek who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. The cesarean rates are extremely high in many parts of South Africa, similar to in Brazil but Katrina knew she wanted a natural birth. After having her first child at a birth center, she decided to plan a homebirth with her second. She faced a great deal of resistance from friends and acquaintances regarding her decision but she ultimately knew it was the perfect birth experience for her.
Leave Katrina a comment on her show notes page.
Connect with me on Instagram @thebirthhour!
Today’s guest is Sarah Villareal who is an L&D (labor and delivery) nurse and mother. She is going to share all three of her birth stories, starting from when she found out she was pregnant, and why she chose to have natural births (one in the hospital, one at a birth center, and one at home) each time.
Sarah says “I am the Mother to 3 amazing children: Arraya (9), Harbor (4), and Solay (17 months). I am married to the love of my life, my soulmate and the guy who keeps life interesting and always funny, Justin. We have been together for 11 years. We are most certainly partners and share in the responsibility of raising this family. I am a full time Registered Nurse in Labor and Delivery and love my job with all my heart. I love being able to support women through what ever type of birth they wish to have, and then also supporting them when the plans need to change.
In this birth story episode, Victoria Easter Wilson shares her two hospital births attended by midwives. The first birth was kind of overwhelming for her husband so when they were pregnant with their second daughter they spent some time processing the first birth story and preparing more this time by hiring a doula. This is a great episode if you want to hear some positive hospital birth experiences - I mean check out that tub and bar she got to use at the hospital!
Victoria is a wife and WAHM who thinks the Internet can be used for good and not evil if you have the right intentions. She is a new doula and birth educator, passionate about supporting women in their motherhood journeys. When she's able to sneak away from the busyness for a few hours, you can find her enjoying a pretty latte and the company of a friend...also probably talking about birth. Connect with her on Instagram.
April Brooks was hospitalized for over a month after going into early labor at just 28 weeks gestation. In this episode, April discusses life living in a hospital for two months with over a month of that being on bed rest. She also shares her son's birth story who was born at 34 weeks and spent 16 days in the NICU. Her son Aemon is now a healthy, happy one year old!
April shares her reasons for coming on the podcast, "As a first time mom in a stressful situation with premature labour, I really do understand how hard it is to get through while keeping positive. I really hope my story can help other woman who are going through the same or a like experience. I think it would have helped me to know that I wasn't completely alone; In those couple months I felt incredibly alone and unclear about what my job was as a mom "Am I making the right choices?" "Am I the only one who has had to go through this?" I want mothers to know that they are NOT alone and there is always someone you can talk to. My province here in Canada has a preemie group on Facebook where moms can all talk about their struggles, stories and accomplishments. I suggest looking into that to see if there is one near you! I have a Blog which I have recently started up which also talks about life after, during and before birth."
Sandra is a life lover living in Umeå in the north of Sweden. She is a mother of three boys, Shambo 5, Noah 2 and Moses 4 months. Her first two births took place at home and the third in a hospital.
Sandra is a teacher and forever student of yoga, and she in training to become a birth doula. She is also in the process of launching her website lifemother.com, a place to share, inspire and connect with other women on the sacred journey of motherhood. You can check out Sandra's new website LifeMother or connect with her on Instagram.
This episode of The Birth Hour features Nicolette Gawthrop who was on the podcast previously sharing her first birth story. You can listen to that birth story and read her bio here, you can connect with her on Instagram @ozarkmamadeer. Nicolette just had her third birth, another planned homebirth which was rather fast with baby Maribell arriving before Nico's midwives arrived. They arrived shortly after and were there for the afterbirth care. In a lovely Instagram post after her birth, Nicolette talks a bit about how important midwifery care is and was to her even though in the actual moment of birth it was just her and her husband.
Paul is a mother, doula, yoga teacher, meditation guide and facilitator of women circles living in Venice, California.
When she was pregnant with her daughter, Madeleine, and traveling on her own journey into motherhood, something shifted within her. She experienced a spiritual awakening that allowed her the opportunity to choose a more conscious way to approach her life as a woman and mother. In her yoga practice, she blends together her experience as a mother, her expertise as a doula and her extensive training in yoga, as a meditation guide and facilitator. Sharing what she knows and supporting women as they make their own journey into motherhood is her deepest passion. You can connect with her on her website or Instagram.
Bethanne Wanamaker is a certified holistic nutrition educator, and the founder of Edible Goddess, an international conscious lifestyle brand that cares deeply about your empowerment. She teaches progressive strategies that awaken you to your highest potential by following the body's inherent wisdom, and with an intentional mindset, daily self-care rituals, and radical self-love. Be sure to check out the show notes page, and follow us on Instagram.
Karyssa and her husband grew up in the Seattle area and are now raising their own family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Karyssa has known she wanted to be a mother since she was very young so she and her husband started trying for a family right away and now have two girls who are currently 2.5 years and 8 months old. After giving birth to her babies, Karyssa became fascinated with what women's amazing bodies are capable of and she hopes to become a doula herself.
See pictures and read more here.
Follow on Instagram for updates and gorgeous birth photos on the regular!
Amanda Moon Callahan lives in the woods with her family on a small farm in Upstate SC. They grow chickens, pigs, donkeys, and on the occasion, babies. Their first child, Aria Daphne is 3.5 and she just had her second. Other than farming and parent life, Amanda works full time at the local domestic violence shelter and spends all her free time cooking up delicious home grown food.
In April I attended the 4th Trimester Bodies Project's conference Body.Breast.Baby in Portland, OR and recorded mini sessions with a bunch of the attendees to put together this special episode of The Birth Hour.
In this episode they all answer the same three questions:
What is the first moment you felt like you'd become a mother?
What one moment do you remember most from your birth?
What's one piece of advice you'd give to a pregnant or new mother?
Listen to this compilation of all of their responses! We'll be back on Thursday with another full birth story episode.
In this episode of The Birth Hour, Christy shares Grace and Finn's birth stories and the reasons that she is so passionate about maternal health. She says, "I became a global maternal healthcare advocate the day I became a mother 12 years ago. That was the day I also became a statistic. Within an hour of delivering my daughter I hemorrhaged. If not for the competent care of a team of providers that included a doula, midwife nurses and backing OB, I might not be here today."
Today's guest is Joni Edelman, who shares the story of her mostrecent birth which was a planned homebirth that ended in a hospitaltransfer. She talks not only about the labor and birth but aboutthe emotions behind not having the birth that she had dreamed of.She recently iwrote an article titled My Labor And Birth Didn't Go As Planned — And No,I'm Not 'Over' It and received quite a bit ofbacklash for it.
Bricia shares her hospital birth story and all of the preparation she did prior to the birth and although the birth went very much like she had hoped, her placenta didn’t come and she had to be taken to the OR. Listen to her tell her whole story in her own words.
Bricia is a partner at Guelaguetza, LA’s temple for Oaxacan cuisine. She has become a staunch proponent of Oaxacan culture and an integral figure in the gastronomic culture of Los Angeles. Her blog, moleandmore.com reaches a wide audience of young people in search of cooking tips and cultural experiences. Her and her family’s story have been featured in a number of multi-media national and international publications.
Bricia was also recently invited to the White house to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Obama and eight other of the country’s business leaders on immigration and economic issues. She has also spoken of young immigrant issues in front of Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto.
Tammy gave birth in the UK and was in active labour with her son Milo for 24 hours. Tammy credits her yoga practice prior getting pregnant for getting her through such a long and arduous birth.
Tammy is a Senior Yoga Alliance certified Yoga Teacher & Therapist with over 1000 hours of training. She's practiced yoga since the age of 14 and has been teaching for 8 years. She considers herself a life-long yoga student and teaches a wide range of people -- from professional football players, cage fighters and snowboarders to pregnant ladies, children and senior citizens. She is passionate about inspiring and nurturing the intuitive and creative powers that are innate within women at all stages of the female life cycle including menstruation, conceiving, pregnancy and postpartum. She believes that yoga practice teaches that there is so much potency and wisdom available to women when they really open up to exploring it. You can connect with Tammy on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter or visit her website.