Caitlin Shrum lives in the Bay Area, California with her husband, Andrew, and their son, Cooper (2). Her first birth caught her by surprise as she found herself in an emergency c-section situation. She quickly realized her experience wasn’t normal and has spent the past two years educating herself in order to set up her future births for success, and has found within herself a passion for the birth space and maternal care. In this episode, she walks us through her pregnancy and childbirth experience and how she has taken that experience and is channeling it into education and learning for herself and hopefully others down the line.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
With her first son, Remy, Tayler went a week past her due date and had a very long labor (over 30 hours). Looking back, she realized that she had been resisting every contraction. So for her second birth, Tayler wanted to do things a little differently. During her pregnancy, Tayler practiced hypnobirthing; and during labor, she remembers repeating the word "opening," and actually feeling herself dilating. Tayler's second birth was much quicker: her second son, Sage, was born in the water and en caul very shortly after arriving at the hospital.
In her lighthearted and quippy style, Crystal hilariously details her three births: A hospital birth at 42 weeks involving "The Devil's Urine" and a hemorrhage; a 3 week early and extremely fast water birth; and, a one-push water birth with a hospital transfer solely to get a rest from her preschooler and toddler at home. Crystal talks about how her love of ramen noodles made from placenta broth helped her adjust to the news of an unexpected pregnancy, and about how her "Birth Boss" midwife and doula made all the difference through three unmedicated births. Crystal's births taught her that she has an extremely high tolerance for pain, and that absolutely anything is possible if you trust your body and allow yourself to be nurtured and supported by the community of people who love you.
Sarah is 28 years old and is the owner of two large hot yoga studios located in Northern Arizona. Hear Sarah tell the story of giving birth to her son, Hayden, after almost 18 hours of labor.
In 2015, Lori Kitchen-Buschel and her husband, Kenneth, became licensed foster parents: in less than a year, they went from 0 kids to being the parents of 3 children under 5 with the addition of their daughter Louella Kitchen-Buschel in 2016. In this extremely moving episode, she talks about her journey from meeting her foster children, to finding out she was pregnant unexpectedly and struggling with wondering whether she would have enough love for all of her children.
This episode is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow helps new and pregnant moms qualify for breast pumps through their health insurance. They carry all of the major brands, including Medela, Spectra, Lansinoh, Evenflo, and more. Visit their website to get started today, and your dedicated breast pump specialist will take care of all of the paperwork for you, including getting a prescription from your doctor and filing the claim with your insurance. Go here to get started!
Anna went to the hospital with her intentions set on birthing naturally. However, after experiencing back labor due to her daughter being posterior, (i.e. her daughter's head pressing on her spinal cord) she had an epidural. She often describes her decision to have an epidural as being one of the best and worst decisions she ever made. Best because it stopped the pain, worst because of what happened only a minute or two after getting the injection.
The family was excited when they found out Emma was pregnant. Emma had an amazing pregnancy, she felt powerful and proud to be nurturing a baby. After hesitantly deciding to have a hospital birth (because of costs) Emma was able to maintain her goal of an unmedicated labor and delivery.
Emma's contractions sped up ferociously and she almost did not make it to the hospital. Emma arrived at the hospital and the baby was earth side within 20 minutes and 3 pushes.
Emma planned to breastfeed and had to deal with the challenge of extremely low milk supply. She was unprepared for this challenge and felt the doctors and lactation consultants she worked with did not support her breastfeeding or understanding of low supply. Emma was incredibly resilient and worked hard to continue to breastfeed along with supplementing. Emma has become very knowledgeable about low supply issues and resources for mothers. She wants other mothers to know that low supply issues are common, their many contributing factors, and a great deal of lactogenic foods, herbs, and activities to support milk production.
Emma is a hard working Social Worker and Therapist for Native American youth in her Bay Area community. Emma met and fell in love with Davey many moons ago while they attended college. Emma and her partner Davey have created a beautiful home together in Berkeley, CA with their pup Rio, The family welcomed Zia in the summer of 2016. Emma loves being a mother and feels blessed for the light that Zia brings to her family and life.
Grace had an unmedicated hospital birth with an OB. She prepared for her unmedicated birth by hiring a doula and taking Bradley classes during her pregnancy. She also had the added bonus of having her sister as her L&D nurse throughout her entire birth!
The episode is sponsored by Milkies by Fairhaven Health. Milkies is a line of thoughtfully designed products for moms, by moms to help support all women in their breastfeeding journey. Products include breast milk collection and storage, supplements, teas, nursing pads and much more! Milkies is generously offering 10% off all products with the code BIRTHHOUR at www.fairhavenhealth.com. We are also giving away a milk catcher and milk collection tray over on Instagram.
Anjelica gave birth to her first daughter while living abroad on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Though she originally wanted to deliver with a midwife, she had to make adjustments based on her location’s cultural norms and her Spanish language barrier. Anjelica’s story takes some crazy turns that involve driving two-hours to the hospital, her husband paying for a private labor room while she was in labor, and her doula almost delivering their baby. As she shares what birth is like for many women on the island we get an idea of what it takes for some women outside the continental U.S. to achieve a low-intervention vaginal birth.
Anjelica gave birth to her second daughter on another lush island, Guam. This time around she was able to have a midwife provider like she’d hoped for the first time, but experienced other hurdles that came along with being a military spouse and mother of a busy toddler. Anjelica’s story quickly gets interesting as she realizes she’s in labor while her husband is in the middle of running a half-marathon.
Today's guest is Gayleen Peters who went in for a check-up around 37 weeks and realized she basically had no fluid left. She was told she'd need a cesarean that day but then had to wait several hours for the OR to open up. Her baby arrived safely but did have to spend some time in the NICU and she discusses that experience as well.
Alexis is a survivor of sexual assault, and never once considered how that experience would impact her birth until she read “When Survivors Give Birth” for her Doula training. It was life changing and made her realize why she hit a wall in both of her births. She shares how her birth center and hospital births were both impacted by the fact that she never felt completely safe and therefore wasn't relaxing and opening to give birth. Alexis hopes to use her experience to hold space with other survivors and let them know their birth can actually set them free.
Alexis is passionate about every woman’s right to have informed and supported births. She tirelessly planned and prepared for her own natural births, only to be greatly disappointed by the need for intervention. Her own struggle with accepting her births inspired her to become a doula and build a holistic practice that incorporates not only birth and postpartum support services, but that also recognizes the link between birth and mental health. She created the Mindful Mama Collective with the hope of helping other mamas feel confident and supported as they heal and grow into new motherhood.
Rachelle O'Neil was living in Bermuda when she was pregnant with her son. She went to the hospital to be induced 7 days after her due date, and 20 min before her son arrived the doctor realized it was his hip coming out rather than his head! Everything went smoothly and she was so happy that she delivered a breech baby vaginally rather than by csection. Rachelle also shares her second birth for which she was living in Luxembourg. She had planned to have a natural birth and although she ended up with a "walking epidural", she describes it as an amazing euphoric experience. Connect with her on Instagram @roinlux.
Amy shares her experiences dealing with her fair share of complications in pregnancy and birth. She has had 3 births within a hospital setting and has dealt with a subchorionic hemorrhage (vaginal bleeding for six weeks) during pregnancy, miscarriages, epidurals that haven't worked, NICU stays and so much more. She also talks about how intuitive birthing helped her cope with the pain of labor and childbirth during each of her three births.
Today's birth story guest shares all three of her birth stories, which took place in hospitals. She talks about her baby's shoulders getting stuck with her second birth, and of how her doctor gave her the option of being induced a week early or having a cesarean with her third baby, which really scared her. She chose induction and ended up stalling out during labor, and she was prepped for a c section but as they were wheeling her into the operating room, she felt the urge to push and her baby was born!
This is probably the most open and honest discussion we've had on The Birth Hour about postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA). Ally shares how long it took her to realize she needed help and how she didn't find any support initially from her OBGYN, despite answering yes to many of the concerning questions on a survey at her doctor's office. She had to find help elsewhere.
Fiona had a very traumatic birth experience where she hemorrhaged and was alone in the hospital after her husband had gone home. As a result, she was very fearful going into subsequent births but with her second husband she expressed her fears, got an epidural immediately, and had a very different (positive) experience. In this episode she shares her first three birth stories and since we recorded she's had a fourth child who was born via cesarean due to failure to progress after her water had broken.
Lola worked during most of her pregnancy and walked 6 km a day. She was quite scared about going into labor, so she chose a doctor who really made her feel confident about herself. The doctor had a reputation of standing back during most of the delivery and letting things follow their natural course, and would step in as needed. Another important factor that made things easier was that the hospital was only a 3 minute walk away from their apartment.
I met today's guest, Ami, through my work with Why Not Home?—a documentary about medical professionals that choose to give birth at home. Ami is a midwife, RN, and IBCLC who had planned to have a homebirth with a midwife in attendance, but ended up needing to transfer to the hospital. I love this story because it is so positive despite things not going as Ami had originally planned.