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.
Lena Whetton Bio
Lena Whetton is a 29-year-old Cake maker and decorator from New Zealand. Her and her husband live on an Island 35 minute ferry ride from the biggest city Auckland. Waiheke is a small Island with a permanent population of around 8,000 however during the summer months it rises to a whopping 20,000!
Lena has recently birthed her first child with Husband Cristian who is a chef so life is all about food! She is currently on maternity leave so spends her days nursing, playing and caring for baby Marlon. Once falling pregnant Lena became birth obsessed and that is how she came across the birth hour, listening to episodes back to back while making cakes all day long. Her mother was a childbirth educator and La Leche League leader back in the day so birth was a very normal thing in her life although she had never witnessed a birth in real life.
Earth Mama Organics
From the positive test to the big push, from the first latch to the thousandth diaper, Earth Mama makes effective organic and natural herbal products for the whole journey of motherhood: pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, and baby care. They’ve been safely nurturing mamas this way since 2002 — and they wouldn’t do it any other way. Be sure to check out some of their latest products like the organic deodorant (that really works!) that Caitlin and I discussed at the end of today’s episode!
Hospital Birth with Rectal Intervention
Birth of Vienna—December 08, 2015: Amber planned an unmedicated hospital birth with her first daughter Vienna using Vanderbilt Midwives & a volunteer doula. She found herself in the midst of transition feeling ill-prepared for coping through the pain & highly disappointed with the lack of care from the midwife on call. With the help of her doula, she pushed through transition using guided breathing.
However when it came time to push, her baby’s heart rate began to decelerate & a resident doctor stepped in with no introduction or warning to perform an aggressive rectal intervention where he inserted his hand into her rectum to force a fast delivery of the baby’s head. It was very painful & left her feeling traumatized for months. A different midwife later apologized to Amber and affirmed that the doctor’s actions were aggressive & unnecessary. That experience ultimately set Amber on a journey to have an empowered fear-free natural birth at a Birth Center with her second, as well as to become a Birth & Postpartum Doula herself.
Baby + Co Fear-Free Birth Center Birth
Birth of Lydia—October 03, 2017: Amber planned her second natural birth at the Baby + Co Birth Center in Nashville. She immersed herself deep into the birth world and sought a highly educated and empowered redemptive unmedicated birth. Amber said she didn’t just want a good birth experience, she wanted the best birth possible. She wanted fear-free, pain-free, orgasmic, supernatural—ALL the things! In addition to listening to a birth story a day, Amber created a birth team around her with her husband and sisters and gave them each roles & tools to help her cope through labor.
Her plans were shaken however when her baby turned out to be in a persistent transverse lie, which can only be delivered through C-Section. She took the reigns again and used Spinning Babies, Acupuncture, Webster Chiropractic, and Moxibustion to help her baby turn at 37 weeks. Amber went on to have her dream birth. She says she got all the things and then some! Her favorite memory was when her midwife finally checked her and she turned out to be 10 cm. Amber remembers laughing out loud and exclaiming “This is awesome!” because she still hadn’t felt a moment of fear or pain and didn’t even know she went through transition yet! Her daughter Lydia was born 20 minutes later in the water. Amber’s first words after catching her baby were “That’s how God designed birth to be! That was perfect!”
Amber Keeler Bio
Amber Keeler is a Birth & Postpartum Doula living in Middle Tennessee with her husband Nathan and two daughters, Vienna & Lydia. She is also a birth & lifestyle blogger at HandyApron.com and is an active Instagramer @doulaamber. Amber is passionate about helping women take charge of their birth experience and believes that with the right preparations, every kind of birth can be a positive empowering one! You can also check out Amber’s Handy Apron blog.
How to be your own Doula
Coping Tools & Techniques for a Fear-Free Pain-Free Childbirth
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Three Birth Stories
Tonya’s first pregnancy ended in a misscarriage at 10 weeks, which lead to a D&C, continuous bleeding, and a hysteroscopy.
After her miscarriage, Tonya had a rough second pregnancy, fighting with all-day and all-night (morning) sickness all the way until the 3rd trimester. Also, the baby continued to be on the smaller side which lead to many ultrasounds. After having a miscarriage, Tonya was relieved to be able to see her baby so often, but she was always in the breech position. Every ultrasound, from 20 weeks on, she was in the same position. Baby was monitored for fluid levels, growth, and head size. Because she continued to be breech, Tonya reluctantly started planning a scheduled c-section. Tonya had always hoped for a vaginal birth, but she quick;y realized things don’t always go as planned. The day they went to the c-section, they did an ultrasound to make sure she still hadn’t turned and, sure enough, she was still in the same position; so, they continued on with the c-section. Everything went smoothly and they met their firstborn, Teal.
Second Birth Story – VBAC with Epidural
With Tonya’s next birth, she was determined to have a VBAC, but at the same time, she just wanted her baby here safely, whatever way that was going to be. Tonya didn’t want to put so much pressure on herself that she would be disappointed in how her baby was birthed. She was very nervous about what was going to happen.
Tonya tried everything in the books to have the baby on time because her care providers encouraged having the baby around 40 weeks or shortly after for a VBAC. Tonya was walking, even running, trying to get the baby out after 39 weeks. It felt to her like it was never going to happen and she started feeling defeated at the end of 39 weeks. On the night of 39 weeks 4 days, she got a phone call that her grandmother had fallen and was life-flighted to the hospital. By 3 a.m., she got the call that she should drive down to Denver (about an hour away), to say her goodbyes. Tonya’s mother-in-law came to watch Teal as Tonya, her husband, and her brother headed down to Denver at 4 a.m., arriving at 5.
As soon as they pulled into the hospital, Tonya started having diarrhea with contractions beginning shortly after. They were spaced out 10-15 minutes, but throughout the rest of the morning the contractions grew closer and closer. By around 1 p.m., Tonya’s mother and husband told her it was time to get going to the hospital. Tonya was afraid it wasn’t really happening (she wasn’t in as much pain as she was expecting; she just felt uncomfortable), so she hesitated to go in. Finally, they headed to the hospital at about 2:30pm to get checked. She was dilated to 5 cm with contractions coming about every 5 minutes so was admitted.
She was asked about an epidural, and the nurse on hand highly recommended it, especially being a VBAC patient, so she went ahead with it. Immediately, the epidural caused her to get sick, lose her hearing, and get dizzy, but the anesthesiologist eventually got it balanced out to where Tonya regained her hearing and started feeling better again. At about 7:30pm it was push time. Tonya felt like she was struggling to push, asked for a mirror, and eventually got the baby out at around 9:00pm. And they met their 2nd daughter, Layne. Within a half-hour of Layne being born, Tonya’s grandmother passed away. It truly felt like she was holding on until she heard Tonya’s baby’s name, who was named after her. A very bittersweet day.
Unmedicated VBAC & Emergency Hysterectomy
With her next baby, again, Tonya was determined to have a VBAC and felt much more confident this time. But, she really hated everything about the epidural so she really wanted to have an unmedicated birth this time. She watched many youtube videos and listened to the Birth Hour daily to help her prepare. At 39 weeks 4 days, Tonya woke up at midnight with her first contraction. She tried to sleep through them, but they progressively got more painful and closer together. At about 3am, she decided she better eat something in case she wasn’t going to be able to eat again for awhile.
At 4am, she showered and her husband started getting up and packing, thinking they should head to the hospital soon. Shortly after the shower, the contractions seemed to taper off, so Tonya laid back down and encouraged her husband to head to work. Once her older children woke up, the contractions were anywhere from around 7 to 12 minutes apart, so she fed them breakfast and decided to take them on a walk. The walk seemed to pick the contractions back up so when her husband called around 10am to check up on her, he decided it was time to head back home. They went to the hospital at 11:30am and were admitted because she was 6 cm dilated with contractions coming about every 3-5 minutes by then.
She had planned on walking, bouncing, and possibly sitting in the tub for labor, but the room they were admitted to did not have a tub. She also discussed with her doctor using the TENS unit and/or laughing gas for pain management before going to an epidural. Tonya tried the TENS unit, but within about 5 minutes of that, it was push time. She had about 5 big pushes and baby Eva was born. Tonya felt amazing after this birth! Like she could go run a marathon! She was in awe of her baby and the whole experience.
Then, the doctors started trying to get her placenta out. It was not coming out normally, so the doctors started kneading Tonya’s stomach. Still, it wasn’t coming, so they started pressing harder and harder. It got so painful, Tonya had to hand her baby off because she was in excruciating pain. Still, the placenta wouldn’t detach. Finally, after an hour of trying to manually extract the placenta, the doctor determined it was time for a D&C. Tonya was able to nurse her baby and introduce her to her sisters, mother, and mother-in-law and then they prepped her for what was supposed to be a 30 minute surgery. About 8 hours later, Tonya woke up on life support. Eventually she learned she had nearly bled to death and in order to stop the bleeding, the doctor had to perform a cesarean hysterectomy.
Tonya Trostel Bio
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.
The Birth Hour
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Unplanned Cesarean Birth Under General Anesthesia
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.
Birth Trauma Therapy
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.
Allison Lynch Bio
Allison lives in Madison, WI with her husband Jesse and their one year old daughter, Cora. She is a research administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Allison and her family love spending as much time as they can outdoors, even in the cold Wisconsin winters. Although her birth ended up in a traumatic emergency c-section, she is an advocate for natural birth and is very passionate about postpartum support and finding help when you need it. She is active in her local birth and new mother communities, so if you are local she can connect you. Connect with Allison on Instagram @AlliLynch14.
How to Heal a Bad Birth
Heal your Birth Story
Madison Postpartum Collective
Today’s episode was sponsored by Ergobaby. Ergobaby creates innovative solutions to meet the needs of today’s parents. With over 30 baby carriers in five different categories, Ergobaby is dedicated to building a global community of confident parents with smart, ergonomic solutions that enable and encourage bonding between parents and babies. At the end of today’s episode I spoke to Laura from Ergobaby about what makes them unique and the features of their newest stretchy wrap for those early days with baby. We will also be giving away a wrap over on Instagram so be sure to check that out as well!
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 Gesundheit Bio
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.
Melissa Spilstead Hypnobirthing (online option)
Why Not Home
This episode is sponsored by Crane Humidifiers. Crane’s colorful humidifiers are a nursery necessity to help relieve your baby’s tiny congested nose, which can make feeding and sleeping a struggle for both baby and mom. A happy baby is a healthy baby. Crane is generously offering $10 OFF and free shipping on all of their 1 gallon adorable animal shaped humidifiers and drop humidifiers with the code BIRTH17 at www.crane-usa.com.
Doula Makes All the Difference – A Hospital Birth Story
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.
Sarah Hoddick Bio
Sarah and her husband have been together for 10 years and married for two. They welcomed their first baby in September after using the ava bracelet to get pregnant.
This episode is sponsored by Ava Women. Wear the Ava bracelet while you sleep for effortless insight about your fertility, your cycle, and your health. Ava monitors nine physiological parameters and is clinically proven to detect the beginning of the fertile window in real time. You can use the promo code: BIRTHHOUR for $20 off each order at avawomen.com.