Hospital and Birth Center Birth Stories

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Hospital and Birth Center Stories

This episode features Denver mama, Alaina, who struggled to get pregnant and had two miscarriages before using Clomid for her 3rd pregnancy, and gave birth in a hospital setting. She found out she was pregnant again without any outside assistance just a year later and gave birth at a birth center, having an unexpected waterbirth.

waterbirth birth center

Alaina Isbouts Bio

Alaina and her husband Philip met while living abroad in Prague, and quickly bonded over their mutual love of travel and shared view of the world around them.  Though they got engaged very quickly, they enjoyed their time together traveling before they bought a house, settled down, and decided to try for a family. It unexpectedly took them a year and a half before they got pregnant with their first, a natural miscarriage at home. Eight months later, in a new home and new city, they found out they were once again pregnant. Once again, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.  Alaina and Philip went through fertility testing and were finally able to have a healthy pregnancy with the help of Clomid. Her first birth was a 20-hour natural birth in a hospital.


Shortly after celebrating their baby’s first birthday, Alaina found out she was unexpectedly pregnant, though she was still nursing and not taking any fertility medications.  This time they decided to go with a birth center, and ended up with a beautiful and unplanned waterbirth. She currently calls Denver home, along with her husband of eight years and their two boys, Julian (3) and Finley (11 months).  Alaina is a freelance editor and writer, and you can find her online at She is on Instagram and Twitter @alainaisbouts.

Alaina recommends reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and taking a birth preparation class.


Listen to me chat with Whitney about BabyList at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!


*photos by Monet Nicole Birthing Stories. Monet has also shared her birth stories on The Birth Hour.

A Postdates Birth at The Farm

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Shelby Shankland shares the story of her daughter’s hospital birth that initially left her feeling empowered, because she had overcome such a difficult experience. But as she processed it, she became more and more angry about the way her care was handled. When she became pregnant again, she knew she wanted a different experience and shares the story of her son Jack’s waterbirth at The Farm birth center in Summertown, TN. She ended up going 3 weeks past her due date and faced some scary moments after her son was born, but she trusted fully in her midwives at The Farm and felt empowered after her birth. Read more about giving birth at the farm.

the farm birth center midwives

Shelby Bio

Shelby Shankland lives in East Tennessee with her husband, 8 yr old daughter, and 3 yr old son. Prior to moving to Tennessee, she lived in San Francisco for almost 20 years, having moved there to attend the Conservatory of Music, and stayed on working in various office jobs until switching careers to postpartum doula work and lactation counseling after the birth of her daughter. Shelby is now a Certified LifeWorks Life Coach, a Reiki II Certified Reiki Practitioner, project manager for a learning and development company, and professional flutist. She enjoys all of her various means of bringing home the bacon, but in particular enjoys coaching and empowering women.
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the farm summertown tennessee

Ina May Gaskin Resources

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

A film about The Farm Midwives and Ina May Gaskin

Shelby shares this article as a postpartum resource:

After-the-Birth Mother Care
Mothering, Spring 1995, by Nancy Griffin
IT’S BEEN A WEEK SINCE THE BABY WAS BORN, AND you haven’t slept a wink. Your milk just came in, and your nipples are getting sore. The laundry’s piling up, your mother-in-law just called to see why you haven’t sent thank-you notes to her friends, and you haven’t spoken a complete sentence to your husband since you went into labor. Help! Is this the way life is supposed to be? What about the new mommy?

Many women, having enthusiastically prepared for their new arrivals, are surprised by the world awaiting them on the other side of childbirth. The pediatrician is everything they had hoped for; the infant safety and CPR classes prove a definite boon; and the new furniture and baby gear are ready for action. The moms themselves, however, are not. They are overwhelmed and unable to find the time or space to tend to their own well-being–perhaps the greatest gift a mother can give her children. Well cared for ourselves, we become physically and psychologically equipped to care for our young, and to portray strong role models that will inspire them to take good care of themselves in the years ahead.
Based on what we know of our evolutionary past, women did not always journey into new motherhood feeling alone, uncertain, and distressed. Indigenous cultures had joyful postbirth rituals and well-established support systems in place to care for new moms. By reclaiming these mothercare customs from our not-so-distant past, and combining them with late-20th-century research findings plus a dash of modern common sense, we can find it not only possible but a lot of fun to take care of ourselves after giving birth.


According to current research, it takes about four to six weeks following an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and six to eight weeks following a complicated vaginal birth or cesarean, for a mother’s body to complete the initial stage of recovery from childbirth. Throughout this period of time, the uterus contracts, involuting to its prepregnancy size. Breastfeeding, which stimulates uterine contractions, assists in this process. Lochia, discharged vaginally, indicates that healing is occurring at the site of the placenta. Episiotomy or cesarean incisions are also mending at this time.

Orthopedic changes are taking place as well. Pregnancy hormone levels are dropping off and, with lactation, prolactin levels are rising–contributing to a gradual decrease in joint laxity. Over a 9-to 12-month period, both the pelvic ring and the abdominals realign and regain their strength. All the while, postural changes are taking place in response to the redistribution of weight.

To optimize your approach to the postpartum year, be sure to avoid any exercise that places your joints at risk for injury, stresses your abdominals or lower back, or places excessive caloric demands on your body. Safe forms of exercise include recovery exercise classes that emphasize non- or low-impact aerobic activity for cardiovascular training, swimming, walking on flat surfaces, stationary or mobile bike riding, and upper body muscle conditioning with resistance bands rather than weights. Options that can adversely affect your recovery include jogging, stair-climbing, step or bench aerobics, use of a StairMaster or inclined treadmill, highimpact aerobics, heavy cross-training, cardio-funk, and weight training. For as long as you continue lactating, your joints will remain somewhat lax–probably until the return of regular periods–so avoid any form of exercise that may stress your joints.
In tribal wisdom, the postpartum year was a time for mothering the mother. Massage was a popular healing technique used to help the new mother relax and to restore normal circulation, thereby facilitating optimal musculoskeletal recovery. Anthropological research reveals that for the first three months after giving birth, some of our foremothers were treated to a daily full-body massage.

Breastfeeding consultants were plenteous. Newly lactating mothers could call on any number of experienced women to help them adjust to breastfeeding in the first few weeks. No doubt, problems such as sore nipples, if they existed at all, were quickly alleviated by repositioning the baby on the breast, in keeping with tips from the village women.
The importance of excellent nutrition for the breastfeeding mother was widely recognized. In some tribes, the new father honored the mother’s passage by immediately hunting up an outstanding meal for her. He further demonstrated his manly virtues, it has been said, by not impregnating his wife until after the new baby had weaned, thereby averting postbirth pressure for too-soon sex.

Personal grooming was an integral component of the new mom’s day. The tribal women would escort her to the local pond, stream, or river and pamper her with herbal baths, shampoos, and facials. While she bathed, another woman would hold her newborn or teenagers would come babysit. Refreshed and renewed, she could feel like herself again, and the teens could rejoice in their hands-on training for parenthood.

The traditional postpartum care practices used to augment physical healing are simple enough to adapt to everyday use in today’s world. Take these evolutionary tips to heart in your time of recovery.


Self-esteem can falter in the postpartum months. Women accustomed to valuing themselves as the CEO of a big company, a movie star, or “simply” a superwoman adept at juggling home, family, husband, and career frequently think little of themselves as new mothers. The natural functions of pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood–once mysterious and highly regarded–are no longer sacrosanct. Weight gain is often viewed negatively, as is taking time off from work to begin a family. The pressures to have a perfect body, maintain a fabulously successful career, contribute substantially or fully to the family economy, and be a perfect parent often leave new mothers feeling overwhelmed and guilty.

In our rush to climb the contemporary ladder of accomplishment, we are apt to place our needs as mothers last on the agenda. To counteract this tendency and nourish your self-esteem, remember that in tribal times, giving birth and being a mother were among women’s greatest accomplishments. A woman’s ability to bear new life was honored as sacred, and the functions pertaining to new motherhood were considered deeply important.

In traditional cultures, life moved at a slower pace. People ate and slept when they needed to. Daytime naps were customary among adults; tropical tribes even set aside time for a midday siesta. Babies slept with their mothers, and as a result, mother-infant sleep cycles became synchronized. The new mom felt rested even if she had nursed several times during the night.
If you, like many contemporary mothers, feel chronically exhausted and overwhelmed, try napping with your baby during the day. At night, plan on intermittent feedings. Current research shows that babies do their growing while asleep, and hence need to feed during the night. Because mother’s milk is so quickly and easily digested, breastfed babies often need to feed several times a night. Be grateful for immature sleep cycles–they are a call to life for infants who, to survive, must nurse at least every two hours during the first six to eight weeks of life! Trying to “get” an infant to sleep through the night is an unrealistic modern-day endeavor rooted in the need to get to work on time in the morning.

Humankind has been around for quite a while–only a brief moment of which is associated with the postpartum expectations we are familiar with. Perhaps our foremothers knew a thing or two. Joining the best rituals of the past with the knowledge of the present may very well spark a happy, healthy future for ourselves and our little ones.

Goldsmith, Judith. Childbirgh Wisdom. Brookline, MA: East West Health Books, 1990.
Liedloff, Jean. The Continuum Concept. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977.
Sears, William, MD. Nighttime Parenting. Franklin Park, IL: La Leche League International, 1990.
Thevenin, Tine. The Family Bed. Wayne, NJ: Avery Publishing, 1987.
For more information on traditional approaches to postpartum care, see the following articles in past issues of Mothering: “Mother Roasting,” no. 43; “Traditional Childbirth,” no. 51; and “Postpartum Practices throughout the World,” no. 66.

General Guidelines
* DON’T try to tackle the postpartum months alone–seek help from relatives, friends, and competent, experienced professionals.
* ATTEND La Leche League meetings if you are breastfeeding.
* CONTACT a qualified lactation consultant at the first siggn of a breastfeeding problem.
* CREATE or seek out a playgroup, a baby gym, recovery exercise classes, and new parent groups, and begin participating as soon as you feel ready.

Following an Uncomplicated Vaginal Birth
The First 2 Weeks Postpartum
Enjoy your baby
Limit visitors
Do Kegel exercises daily
Begin gentle walking on noninclined surfaces
Get a massage
Rest and eat well
No errands, shopping, cooking, or cleaning

2–4 Weeks Postpartum
Begin regular walking on inclined surfaces to increase circulation, beginning with 5 minutes a day and working up to 20 minutes
Nap and rest daily
Eat well
Get a massage
Get out of the house and do something fun
No more than one errand a day

4–6 Weeks Postpartum
Begin a recovery exercise program 3 times a week, with the approval of your care provider
Join activities that bring you into contact with other mothers
Nap and rest daily
Eat well

Following a Complicated Vaginal Birth or a Cesarean

The First 4 Weeks Postpartum
Enjoy your baby
Limit visitors
Do Kegel exercises daily
Limit yourself to household walking
Get complete bed rest, including naps
Eat well

4–6 Weeks Postpartum
Begin gentle walking and work up to regular walking
Rest and nap daily
Get a massage (only if you had a vaginal birth)
Get out of the house and do something fun
No errands, shopping, cooking, or cleaning

6–8 Weeks Postpartum
Begin a recovery exercise program 3 times a week, with the approval of your care provider
Get a massage
Join activities that bring you into contact with other mothers
Contact the International Cesarean Awareness Network [see For More Information] and attend meetings
No more than one errand a day

For More Information: International Cesarean Awareness Network, National Office PO Box 276, Clarks Summit, PA 18411; 717-585-ICAN

Maybe you should take a nap too.
Let the spoon run away with itself,
Let the trash get carried away.
The bed can flourish rumpled and ripe
(Like an unmade bed).
The dust can swirl into tumbleweeds
rolling out of bounds.
Maybe you could lie down like a dog
Chasing its tail into a circle until,
Round enough, you churn your own self
Into a yellow dream where your baby
Takes care of herself for just an hour
And the answering machine returns your calls.
The cat washes its paws and slumbers;
The refrigerator hums the groceries
Off the shelves and into the pot,
Coaxes the stove into sauteing mushrooms,
Who are frankly happy to be browned and warmed
And bathing in butter,
And the weather drops its mood
And bakes the clothes on the line
While the bills sneak out the pet door.
They know you’re napping;
They know you need your sleep.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Mothering Magazine
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Hospital Sponsored Homebirth Program in Australia

Homebirth in Australia through Hospital Program

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

– the vulnerability she felt as her waters broke

– how she dealt with posterior back-ache during a long early labour

– how her pregnancy went, including losing 11 pounds due to morning sickness

– how the hospital supported homebirth program worked

– and ultimately the amazing waterbirth she had with her husband in the tub as support.

Lizzie Bio

Lizzie is a stay-at-home mum who loves motherhood and enjoys sharing the things she’s learning along the way. She talks about natural birth, how to be a good birth partner or support person, breastfeeding and more on her blog LizzieSophia.

You can follow her second pregnancy and birth story on youtube at LizzieSophiaTv

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homebirth through hospital in australia

Lizzie talks about natural birth, how to be a good birth partner or support person, breastfeeding and more on her blog LizzieSophia.


Find The Birth Hour sample registry here to see some of my favorite pregnancy, birth and postpartum items.

Birth Resources

Birth Skills

Breastfeeding hotline in Australia

Redemptive Birth Story with Lauren Hartmann

Difficult Pregnancy, Redemptive Birth

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.

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You can connect with Lauren on her blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Resource Links

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

The Business of Being Born


lauren hartmann birth story

Earth Mama Angel Baby Breastfeeding Products

Milkmaid Tea

Booby Tubes

Empowering Water Birth Story

Waterbirth in Austin, TX

In today’s birth story episode Cassie Walek shares the story of her daughter’s water birth which was an empowering experience that has left her wanting to pursue a career working with pregnant and new mothers

Cassie Walek Bio

austin texas birth center

Cassie is a work at home mom, and who lives in Austin Texas with her  husband, Jake, and their daughter, Evelyn. She loves to read, craft, cook, and binge watch netflix. She’s a breastfeeding and natural birth advocate, and she hopes to one day pursue a career in the birth world. She feels blessed that she had an amazing water birth that left her feeling incredibly empowered and she is so thankful for the experience. You can connect with her on Instagram @cassiewalek.

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 Birth and Breastfeeding Resources:

Gentle Birth Choices” by Barbara Harper
The Business of Being Born
Breastfeeding Made Simple” by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tacket
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
Ina May Gaskin’s books
Centering Pregnancy group

Giving Birth at Home in Australia

Planning a Homebirth in Australia

In this episode Cassandra Casillas-Smith tells the her birth story of having a homebirth in Australia. She describes the midwifery model of care and her experience as an expat in Australia of planning for and going into labor and ultimately giving birth at home. If you want to hear another set of birth stories that took place in Australia, listen to Shalome Doran’s episodes which also feature a homebirth in Australia and one of her experiences was even an orgasmic birth.

An Expat Preparing for Childbirth in Australia

Cassandra Casillas-Smith lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Ben, baby girl Ruby and little pup Winston. She grew up in a small town outside Dallas, TX and went to college in Austin, TX. After college she joined the Peace Corps and received a placement in Mongolia. It was in Mongolia where she met her husband, Ben. He went to Mongolia with the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Programme and worked at the United Nations Development Programme.

After Mongolia they did some traveling and Cassandra returned to the Peace Corps to serve a 6 month placement in Suriname, South America. After Suriname she and Ben decided to move to Perth, Australia because that’s where the jobs were. They spent 2 lovely years in Western Australia before moving to Victoria so her husband could attend the Masters Programme at The University of Melbourne. Cassandra was 6 months pregnant when they packed up the car and their pup and drove across Australia from Perth to Melbourne in the heat of summer. Just to give you some perspective, that’s pretty much the equivalent of moving from California to Florida! They are now settled in Melbourne and Cassandra is officially an Australian Resident.

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Birth Resources in Australia

Sarah Buckley – Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ten Moons Personal Midwifery Care
Prenatal Acupuncture


The Big Stretch

Ina May’s Ted Talk