On this episode, Caitlin shares the story of her second birth, an empowering VBAC.
Ana gave birth like a champ in a hospital in Germany after being assured that it was baby-friendly. That didn't end up being her experience and although everything ended up ok, she shares how it felt to be treated in a way that wasn't respectful of her wishes.
In Michele's first labor, she delivered a healthy 8lbs 9oz baby boy. Along the way, she had the epidural she planned on, and then found herself ignored and talked about, not talked to, while she labored. While very happy with the healthy outcome, she felt like something was missing, and sought out care providers for her next pregnancy who might do things differently. For her 3 subsequent pregnancies, she was cared for by a team of midwives who listened to her and valued her as a partner in her labors.
After having miscarried in 2016, Karsyn became pregnant early 2017 with her first baby. She didn’t plan a homebirth from the beginning, but changed plans midway through her pregnancy and never looked back. After an uncomplicated pregnancy, Karsyn went into labor in her home eleven days after her due date. Five hours of early labor and five hours of active labor throughout her home and an intense fetal ejection reflex waterbirth brought her Phoenix. Though her pregnancy and labor were pretty ideal, she struggled with breastfeeding and getting Phoenix to gain weight. She’s currently feeding her son exclusively breastmilk and has worked hard to make that possible despite odds stacked against them.
Afra has undergone 3 C-sections mainly due to intervention. With her first she was induced at 41+2 with cervidel to prepare me for an induction and went into labor shortly after. She was 3 cms when admitted to the hosptial, but was put on a bed, not allowed to move around much, and also given some pain meds through an IV which slowed things down alot. She was naive and didn't know much about the importance of movement, and advocating for herself. She labored and got to 8cms, but baby wasn't engaged even though she was 80% effaced. Her baby quickly moved and went transverse as the OB says and so she ended up with an emergency c-section.
With her second she ended up having a c-section again after her water starting leaking. She wasn't getting any contractions and so she was induced at 41 weeks, and she progressed to 8.5cms after about 30/40 hours or so. Her daughter was eventually at station 0 and Afra was 100% effaced but baby wasn't descending as they later found in the c-section the cord was around her neck. Her cervix had swollen with all the constant cervical checks, water ruptures, and catheters inserted. she had been on the IV, antibitocis and eventually had an epidural which helped her progress to 8.5 from 7.
With her 3rd baby, she couldn't find a supportive provider or midwife that could take her on except for an OB who agreed to allow her to TOLAC provided everything was going well. She dilated and went into labor on her own this time and without her approval got a sweep from her OB which set off active labor. Her baby ended up being posterior in brow presentation which gave her back labor and was the reason why her labor wasn't progressing well causing decals. She ended up having her 3rd C-section shortly after.
Read more on the show notes page.
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!
Elise Hurst shares her three birth stories—two unmedicated hospital births and one homebirth. She also shares some fun and interesting tidbits from pregnancy and struggles with breastfeeding and postpartum.
She has a great list of resources listed here.
Catherine Gray planned an unmedicated hospital birth and did everything she could to have a low-risk pregnancy. She took Bradley classes, exercised, followed the Brewer’s diet, interviewed numerous care providers, had chiropractic care and acupuncture, practiced relaxation techniques…and ended up with an unplanned cesarean birth after a long labor at 42 weeks. Sometimes you do everything right, and the part of birth that is a mystery takes over. In processing her birth as a mother, Catherine has explored how her experience as a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse affected the decisions she made during labor and the feelings she had afterward. She has pursued the question, “What if my cesarean was my healing rather than my scarring?”
After a bout with infertility and IVF, Julie was thrilled and terrified to be pregnant with twins! But after an uneventful pregnancy, and making it to 38 weeks, Julie experienced the thing all twin moms dread: the “double whammy” birth.
Michele had a typical pregnancy with all the glam of exhaustion, great hair, makeup induced glow, and self described cankles. She used her male doula and husband to coach her through contractions with a system of position changes. By preparing for labor with music and essential oils, she was able to push through with an unmedicated hospital birth. Wilder was born to Beyonce as Michele roared her out. She had a “normal” postpartum with the highs of having a new beautiful baby girl and food coming on speed dial, and lows of husband hatred due to lack of sleep and toe curling nursing.
Today we are doing things a little differently on the podcast. I'm going to be replaying an episode from Denene Millner, who shared her experience with pregnancy and childbirth as a black woman in America back in 2016 on The Birth Hour. But first I'm going to share some clips from NPR's Code Switch podcast which recently covered this topic. NPR reports that, "black women in the United States are 243 percent more likely than white women to die of pregnancy or childbirth related causes. There's evidence that shows this gap is caused by the "weathering" effects of racism. Weathering is a term coined for stress-induced wear and tear on the body." This statistic is true across all socioeconomic classes because "it's a type of stress for which education and class provide no protection."
Today's birth story features Denene Millner, who shares 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.
This episode is sponsored by The Birth Hour's Know Your Options Childbirth Course and Back-2-Work Breastfeeding Course. Find out more here!
Lisa always knew that she wanted a home birth, but she never anticipated having a marathon labor that would require extra support, including visits to the acupuncturist, the chiropractor, and the hospital. She eventually delivered her perfect daughter at home after over 75 hours of labor with her superstar support team.
Show your support of The Birth Hour by joining our listener supporters group!
Before becoming a mom, Jessica had few expectations about pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. Her only close friend that had given birth did so unmedicated, and most of the language in her birth classes and the surrounding Brooklyn community was largely about "going natural," followed unconditionally by breastfeeding. But her journey took a different turn—she had epidurals for the births of both of her daughters, and breastfed neither. Both births, she says, were empowering experiences thanks to a trusty team of medical providers.
Jessica concedes that postpartum was much more challenging. She struggled early on with breastfeeding and experienced a lot of formula feeding judgement—both from other mothers, and herself. She was also surprised by how many people demean a "medicated" birth as being not natural. It's one of the reasons she's so committed to sharing a wide range of women's pregnancy, birth, and motherhood experiences on her website Well Rounded.
Cristian and Lena struggled to conceive for three years. After one-and-a-half years of trying they sought help through the fertility clinic, which diagnosed Lena with PCOS and an under-active thyroid. After proceeding through all the appropriate tests (like checking for fallopian tube blockage, semen checks, and ruling out all other possible causes) they embarked on the very basic fertility care: Letrozol (similar to Clomid). After trying 3 rounds of Letrozole, they fell pregnant in November 2016.
With the myriad health issues Lena had (asthma, hypothyroidism, hasimotos disease, PCOS and allergies) there was some talk of needing special care on the mainland, which would make her island-based homebirth out of the picture. However, Lena had a very special and amazing midwife who looked deep into the “rules” and said that, provided things were carefully monitored, they could stay with midwifery care on the island. A homebirth was planned, and Lena did many things to promote a very healthy pregnancy in order to keep her dream a reality. The thought of having to travel by boat to get to a birth center or hospital while in labor was unbearable for Lena.
At 9 days over-due, Lena went into labor on a Sunday afternoon at 1pm. The midwife arrived at 3pm, and by then labor was in full swing. Her contractions were intense and back- to-back with little to no breaks in between. Once 10cm dilation was reached, Lena's midwife helped baby get past a small cervical lip and then performed a very nifty maneuver to help baby drop and get past the pubic bone that he appeared to be stuck on. Moments later, Lena's waters gushed everywhere and pushing commenced. 45 minutes later (10 hours of labor + 45 minutes of pushing) baby was here at 10:36pm. Cristian caught baby and announced the sex.
Lena suffered a 3rd degree tear and was stitched up nicely by her midwife shortly after. The evening closed with a delicious cheese toastie and bubbles in bed to celebrate.
Tonya and her husband Evan have three beautiful daughters. Teal who is three, Layne who just turned 2, and Eva is her 4 month old. They reside in a small town in Colorado. Tonya is a former teacher and hair stylist but now is trying to keep up with her daughters as a stay at home mother. She has had three very different births, first was a c-section, second had an epidural VBAC and the last was a natural VBAC, followed by a cesarean hysterectomy due to placenta increta. Tonya is still recovering as she and her husband are adjusting to becoming a family of five.
Allison always knew she wanted to have an unmedicated childbirth; her mom had three, so she assumed that is what she would be able to do as well. Allison and her husband took Bradley Method classes to prepare for childbirth together, and Allison was so excited to experience what her body was made to do. Allison started going to into labor 4 days after her due date, and went to the hospital where she labored overnight and into the next day. Exhausted, Allison ended up getting an epidural and dilated quickly. She pushed for over 3 hours; but, the baby didn't come down, so Allison followed her gut and opted for a c-section. The epidural and spinal block didn't work, so Allison ended up being put under general anesthesia. She woke up to find out that she had delivered a girl: Cora Jo, 9 lbs and 21 inches.
After her traumatic c-section and blood transfusion, Allison knew she had a long road of physical and emotional recovery. After 8 months, Allison was still having nightly flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, so she searched for a local birth trauma therapist. Going to therapy was one of her best decisions as it taught her how to handle the traumatic flashbacks of her birth. Allison shares some of the helpful exercises on the podcast.
With her first pregnancy, Keshia decided on the best OBGYN for her, taking into consideration that she is a type 1 diabetic. Keshia's waters broke shortly after attending a Latin street festival with her fiancé and parents. Back and forth from the hospital, Keshia, exhausted, gave birth to her daughter on her own terms, with a very supportive partner and medical staff after 22 hours of labor. Second time around, having had so many events occur during her pregnancy with her son, Keshia ended up having a calm and tranquil Hypnobirth.
Keshia, a Wedding Photographer with a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Half a Doctor of Physiotherapy, is a type 1 diabetic and mother of two. Keshia and Steve, knowing there was the possibility of fertility challenges ahead, decided to start "not trying not to" have a family in 2014, falling pregnant with there first daughter in January of 2015, and again, with their son in August of 2016. She talks about her journey through both pregnancies, subsequent process of self education and two eventful natural births.
Sarah approached birth wanting whatever type of birth her baby needed to arrive safely; but, she did want to start her labor naturally and hired a doula to help her cope with labor. She ended up having a 33-hour unmedicated hospital birth with a midwife! I loved hearing how despite very little birth-preparation, Sarah completely trusted her doula to guide her through her labor and benefited so much from her doula's knowledge and guidance. She shares some of the positions and tools that were most helpful to her during her long labor at the hospital.
Today's birth story podcast episode features Sarah Tuttle and her gestational carrier, turned great friend, Kara Ford. I had the chance to interview both of them and hear the story of how they found one another, how they made the decision to have Kara carry Sarah's babies and the birth of Sarah and her husband, Chris' sweet twin girls.
Y'all, I'm not gonna lie, this episode strays a bit from what you are typically hearing on The Birth Hour, but it was actually one of my favorite episodes to record. Blythe Fike is a mom of 6 and wife of 1 living in Southern California. After 5 unmedicated, out of hospital births, she went rogue for number 6 and headed to the hospital... on purpose. She loves talking all kinds of birth and you can find her sometimes doing that at thefikelife.com.
Blythe's episode is pretty light hearted and will definitely make you laugh but I also think it's so valuable in that she wasn't afraid to trust her gut and go for the type of birth she wanted even though she had done things very differently the first FIVE times! I love how Blythe and her husband tease each other about how funny the hospital birth experience is after having so many homebirths. These two obviously really know each other on all sorts of levels and make an awesome birthing team.
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.
Jill Krause is the founder of Baby Rabies. This is what happens when baby fever becomes something more. Jill Krause self diagnosed herself with baby rabies (it’s not an actual contagious disease, FYI) in the summer of 2007 when she became obsessed with getting pregnant. Learn more about the definition of baby rabies here. She started blogging about all things trying-to-conceive then. 10 years and 4 babies later, Baby Rabies is now a internationally recognized pregnancy and parenting blog. Connect with Jill on Facebook and Instagram. You can now also follow along with Jill and her family as they travel the country in an RV over at Happy Loud Life!
Jayme has had 8 unmedicated births. One was induced, 5 were in the hospital, and 3 were home water births. Each one was unique and has its own special story. She learned something new with each pregnancy. After her 7th baby, 9 years ago, she was sure her birthing career was over. But then Jayme met her current husband Ben (who had 2 children by adoption); and, they decided to have a baby together. She struggled a bit with getting pregnant. After finding out she had an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, she tweaked her diet, took some supplements, and was able to get pregnant! Jayme knew she wanted a home water birth, and was supported 100% by her husband. As she prepared for the birth she took prenatal yoga (with her husband!) and attended a hypnobabies class. Even though she was almost 40, she had a completely uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, and gave birth to her son, Atticus, who was 7lbs 10oz.
With her first son, Nolan, Stephanie went four days past her due date and had an 18 hour labor (6 hours pushing). Afterwards, Stephanie realized how much fear she had tucked away, and that it caused her to resist and nearly stop her contractions while in the pushing phase. For her next birth, Stephanie knew that she couldn’t push for 6 hours, physically, and that she probably wouldn't be allowed to either. She did research and decided to practice an at home study course with Hypnobabies. She also completed her DONA birth doula training one day before her second son, Remi, was born. Thankfully she had learned a technique to keep her baby in because he came fast and furious (two pushes), being born approximately five minutes after her midwives arrived. The speedy labor and birth was a complete shock. The possibility of having a baby before 40 weeks had never crossed her mind, but (surprise!) Remi was born at 36 weeks 3 days.
Kasey’s first pregnancy and labor was slow and steady. After almost 3 days of labor, her first son was born vaginally and unmedicated in a hospital. Eleven months later, at 21 weeks in her second pregnancy, she experienced a loss of a daughter through fetal demise, induction, and delivery. After a journey of grief for her unborn, and for another pregnancy loss in her family, Kasey found strength in herself and her body again. A year later, to the date, she and her husband found out they were expecting another baby. Through a few rough patches in her pregnancy, Kasey planned for a healing birth center birth made it to 39 weeks and 4 days when she went into labor. When that day came, it was nothing short of chaotic. She delivered her baby at an ultrasound appointment with a doctor she never knew, nurses who had never attended birth, and a few teams of paramedics. After a transfer to the hospital for postpartum care and a short stay in the NICU, she was able to escape the chaos, take her rainbow baby home and begin as a family of 4.