July 2018 – Christian Grace. Aubrey and her husband, Chris, felt so fortunate to have conceived their daughter the first month they decided to try and start a family. The first trimester was relatively smooth other than some bad morning sickness. Aubrey was 17 weeks along when she found out her daughter would be born with a cleft lip and palate. Aubrey and Chris were scared, and they spent the rest of the pregnancy learning everything they could about the diagnosis, interviewing with surgical cleft teams, and going to double the appointments as they were seeing their OB and a perinatologist.
After discussing a birth plan with her OB, Aubrey agreed to an induction at 39 weeks so that a NICU team could be prepped and ready in case of an emergency. Aubrey and Chris checked into the hospital at close to midnight on July 5th. They started Aubrey on cervadil to soften her cervix, which caused some intense back-to-back contractions. They removed the cervadil after only 4 hours because it had worked so affectively; then they began Pitocin to start labor. Pitocin was administered around 7am, and shortly after Aubrey received the epidural she had planned to have. Aubrey and Chris spent the next 12 hours spending time together and watching each contraction come and go on the monitor. They had an amazing nurse that took great care of them, was mindful of their birth preferences, and who was sympathetic towards their feelings about their daughter’s cleft.
Around 6pm, it was time to start pushing! Aubrey pushed for about 45 minutes – and then their daughter, Christian Grace, was born! Christian was born at 7:13pm, weighing 7 pounds 2 ounces and 20.5 inches long. The entire pregnancy, labor, and delivery was very emotional for Aubrey, and it was an incredible feeling to have her daughter safely in her arms. Other than a brief check by the NICU team after delivery, the NICU team was not needed. Aubrey and Chris got to enjoy their delayed cord clamping and golden hour with their baby girl.
Other than a 2nd degree tear and some swelling from the fluids/medications from the induction, recovery went relatively smooth. Overall, Aubrey’s birth was a healing experience after a physically and emotionally draining pregnancy.
Christian’s Birth Video/Blog
May 2020 – Heidi Blake. After 6 months of trying to conceive, Aubrey finally got pregnant with her second child. Although she loved her first pregnancy/delivery, she hoped for her next delivery to look different. Ideally, she wanted a spontaneous birth, no epidural, and to labor freely around her room. Aubrey interviewed with a midwife at a birth center, but she didn’t really feel like it was a good fit and assumed a hospital birth was her best option. Around 7 weeks, Aubrey had a huge bleed at home and feared she was losing her baby. The next day she was diagnosed with a very large subchorionic hematoma and advised to “take it easy” for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Aubrey and Chris spent a lot of the pregnancy anxiously wondering if the SCH would negatively affect the pregnancy. During the second trimester, Aubrey was frustrated that her OB wasn’t supportive of her birth preferences. The OB told her it would be too difficult to catch the baby if Aubrey decided to deliver on her hands and knees, and the OB also suggested that Aubrey wouldn’t be able to go the whole labor unmedicated. Then COVID hit and lockdowns went into place. Hospital policies were changing on a daily basis, and Aubrey hated that she would only be able to have her husband in the delivery room – not her mom, her doula, or her birth photographer. So Aubrey decided to interview with one more midwife/birthing center. It was an INSTANT connection, and Aubrey felt immediately respected, heard, and cared for. She switched from her OB to the midwife at 30 weeks pregnant. She also decided to get a doula to help prepare her for and coach her through an unmedicated birth.
The quality of prenatal care she received from her midwife was unlike anything she received from her OB. After 3 membrane sweeps and going 6 days past her due date, Aubrey’s water finally broke at home on May 20th, 2020 at around 2pm. She immediately notified her midwife, doula, mom, and birth photographer. After laboring at home for an hour, they got in the car to head to the birth center. Traffic and construction made the drive much longer, and the contractions in the car were super painful. However, the atmosphere the moment they walked in the birth center completely switched the mood. The lights were dimmed, her labor playlist was on, essential oils were going, and the bath tub was running.
Aubrey spent about an hour leaned over either a birthing ball or the bed, swaying her hips during each contraction. Her husband was massaging her back, mom was fanning her face, and doula was using peppermint essential oils to help with the nausea and offering words of encouragement and a cool rag. Around 4pm, Aubrey decided she wanted to get in the bath. The contractions immediately felt more manageable. Soon, Aubrey felt like it was time to push. After 15 minutes of pushing, their daughter Heidi was born into her daddy’s hands. Heidi Blake was born May 20th, 2020 at 5:01pm. She weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces and was 21 inches long.
Aubrey and Heidi enjoyed their golden hour in a fresh, herbal bath. It was everything Aubrey ever could have hoped for. Overall, Aubrey loved both of her, very different, births. She doesn’t advocate for any type of birth over the other. Instead, she hopes that women have the options and knowledge to decide what birthing preferences and prenatal care would work best for them. She also urges women not to settle for less than exceptional prenatal care and to interview several OBs and midwives to find the right fit.
Heidi’s Birth Video/Blog
Aubrey is a stay at home mom to two beautiful girls: Christian Grace (2) and Heidi Blake (8 months). Her and her husband are raising their daughters in the Texas Hill Country. Aubrey initially began her blog, Raising His Wildflowers, to help other cleft families find peace in the cleft diagnosis and to advocate for children born with craniofacial differences. Along with cleft-related content, Aubrey also shares day-to-day life as a stay at home mom in order to bring transparency to the struggles and joys of being a mom. Along with www.raisinghiswildflowers.com, you can also find Aubrey on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube @raisinghiswildflowers
Preparing for birth: a birth binder with everything you need
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A few days before Jenny was 41 weeks with her fifth baby, she came to the Midwife Center to start a natural induction – pumping and walking. After a few hours, her water broke and her labor began. Her family was planning to be present for the birth as well as her two friends who were photographer friends, and her mom and sister. Everyone arrived and Jenny’s labor continued to become more active. During the hardest parts of labor she used toning and spent some time in the tub. There were no surprises until it was time to push and it was much harder than she expected. She realized she needed to push through the pain and when she did, Norma was born surrounded by her thrilled siblings. Watch the video from Norma’s birth: https://vimeo.com/203038501
Jenny Stein Bio
Jenny Stein lives with her husband and five kids in Pittsburgh, PA. Her oldest child is finishing high school and her youngest is in preschool. She gave birth to all of her children with the midwives at The Midwife Center of Pittsburgh. She has been a support person for friends while they were giving birth and also photographed births for families. She loves taking photos of her family life and also loves talking about family photography on her podcast, The Family Photographer. Connect with her on instagram.
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Genny had a peaceful birth center birth in January of 2018. After switching care providers twice (once at 26 weeks and again at 37 weeks) she knew the birth center was the right fit. She found a doula who also taught hypnobabies and prenatal yoga. At 8pm the night before birth, contractions started with slight cramping. The midwife and doula said to get sleep and rest as much as possible. At 2:30am, Genny could no longer sleep through the “waves.” Upon arrival at the birth center at 4am, the midwife checked Genny & she was dilated to 7cm! Genny felt at peace and supported throughout the entire process thanks to her husband, doula and midwife. Just before noon and after pushing for 3 hours, baby girl was born into water. The midwife gently unwrapped the cord from her neck and placed her onto her chest. Mom, dad and baby went home 4 hours after baby was born.
For the birth of her second baby, Genny really wanted to give birth at the same birth center her daughter was born. Unfortunately, the birth center closed down 2 months before baby was due. They found a midwifery practice in late June (baby was due in September) because they had just moved back to Jacksonville after being in Pennsylvania on military assignment. Contractions started at 4pm and at 1am (9 hours later) baby boy was born into water in the comfort of her own bedroom. I recall the look on my sister’s face when the doula went in and woke her up to come meet her nephew. My sister was staying the night to care for our toddler and she had her fears for me doing homebirth so it was cool for her to see a healthy happy baby born at home.
Genny Siemion Bio
Genny is a military wife, mother of two, and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator who prepares pregnant women and their partners for birth and parenting. Genny knows that childbirth education truly drives birth satisfaction, partner involvement, and how the mind, body, and spirit need proper preparation for birth and the postpartum period.
Genny has supported evidence-based research on birth long before becoming a mother herself. She became certified through Lamaze International and currently teaches at the local hospital and private classes through Zoom. Genny is featured in Jacksonville Moms Blog, Jacksonville Maternity Directory, and funforfirstcoastkids.org Connect with her on Instagram @gennychildbirthclass.
Peanut is an app that helps you make meaningful connections throughout all stages of motherhood. Peanut provides a safe space for mothers, expectant mothers and those trying to conceive to build friendships, ask questions and find support by introducing you to others nearby who are at a similar stage in life, Peanut provides access to a community who is there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice: Whether it’s understanding IVF, adoption, pregnancy, baby’s first years or beyond, Peanut is a place to connect with other moms in the thick of it.
After an uncomplicated, swift, birth center birth with her first son in 2018, Lauren was caught off guard when her second son was still breech at 36 weeks. In an attempt to “flip” her son, Lauren tried an array of techniques before finally having an unsuccessful (and painful) ECV at 38 weeks.
Frustrated with the streamlined approach that breech meant automatic c-section, Lauren began educating herself on her birthing options. With the support of her husband, Lauren decided she was comfortable attempting a vaginal breech birth; however, finding a supportive provider proved to be more difficult. After a tumultuous ending to her otherwise straightforward pregnancy, Lauren successfully birthed her son vaginally at a local hospital.
Lauren Ruth Bio
Lauren is the proud mother of 2 boys Bodhi (2) and Jameson (newborn). A Texas transplant, Lauren now lives with her husband of 10+ years, Casey, and their boys in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. Lauren is an avid athlete and travel enthusiast who is always looking for her next challenge. You can contact Lauren on Facebook or Instagram at @roreneroo.
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After a bad experience with a small town OBGYN and switching care providers at 35 weeks pregnant with her first pregnancy, Amanda knew the importance of finding the perfect care provider during her second pregnancy. Amanda chose a team of CNMs who had delivery privileges at a local hospital. However, her labor and delivery plan was thrown out the window when COVID hit, and she and her husband made the decision to deliver their son at the only freestanding birth center in the Louisville metro area.
Amanda went from planning a traditional hospital birth with midwives and pain medication to preparing for a drug-free labor and delivery outside of the hospital. She prepared for the birth by learning hypnobirthing techniques, and utilized the techniques throughout her entire labor.
When labor started on her due date, Amanda accidentally slept through the first 6 hours of labor, and finally arrived at the birth center almost ready to push. After trying nitrous oxide (and hating it), Amanda pushed for 2.5 hours in the birth tub, where her son was born en-caul. Amanda lovingly refers to him as her “double water” baby because he was born both in the tub and in his bag of waters.
Amanda struggled with undiagnosed postpartum depression and anxiety after her first pregnancy, but did not realize that what she had experienced was not normal until talking to the midwives during her second pregnancy. She experienced the onset of postpartum depression at seven weeks postpartum with her second baby, and recognized what she was experiencing right away. Amanda received help via prescription medication and a licensed therapist whose specialty was postpartum mood disorders. Amanda is now an advocate for helping women recognize the signs of postpartum mood disorders and pushing to end the stigma behind receiving professional help.
Amanda Dant Bio
Amanda is lives in Louisville, KY with her husband and two kids, Henrietta (2) and Harrison (4 months). She and her husband met while working together at the Louisville Zoo, and they have a goal to visit every accredited zoo in the nation. Amanda now works as an environmental engineer in the chemical manufacturing industry, and loves working as a woman in STEM. Amanda enjoys traveling, playing video games with her husband, reading, and early morning workouts. You can find her on Instagram @raisinghattie or via email at email@example.com.
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With her first pregnancy, Kate had a bleeding scare early on which ended up being a subchorionic bleed that resolved itself, and she had an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Kate felt pressured around her due date to get a membrane sweep and induction, but advocated for what she wanted and was able to labor at home until transition. She used hypnobirthing and went very inward and solitary for her labor. She describes her birth as a great unmedicated hospital birth but was frustrated that the staff never called her midwife whom she was hoping would attend her birth. She ended up delivering with an OB from the practice instead. She talks about her good postpartum period physically but unfortunately struggled with undiagnosed PPA.
With her second pregnancy, Kate used the Ava bracelet and got pregnant on the first attempt. She had a rough first trimester with nausea and exhaustion all while juggling a toddler. Kate ended up changing OBs after what happened with her first delivery, but ended up not being happy with her new OB either. She hired a doula who helped encourage her to switch to a birth center at around 28 weeks and she was very happy with her decision.
Kate used spinning babies techniques and saw a chiropractor during her pregnancy and drank tons of red raspberry leaf tea and ate dates every night during her third trimester. She struggled with some anxiety issues and what she describes as pregnancy rages which caused her to have high blood pressure. She started taking 5-HTP which helped tremendously with her moods.
Kate’s second labor was very similar her first as she labored pretty independently but this labor progressed more quickly. Her midwife told her to contact her when contractions were 7-1-1, but her contractions jumped out of nowhere from 8-1-1 to 4-1-1 and they still had a 45 minute drive up to the birth center. She describes that experienced as the worst drive of her life. She could feel her baby descending but didn’t tell her husband because she was worried it would freak him out while driving.
When they got to the birth center and got checked immediately, the baby’s head was crowning. She says her body completely took over, and the fetal ejection reflex happened. Within 6 minutes of getting to the birth center, her baby was born in one contraction without any conscious pushing.
She describes her immediate postpartum recovery this time as amazing. They had one hour of uninterrupted time, and then four more hours after his birth at the birth center before they headed home.
Unfortunately, she had a lot of issues with mastitis due to over-supply but the haaka was a big help. She had to go dairy-free due to her baby’s intolerance and it helped baby a lot. Kate found support for this via a Facebook group.
Kate is 31 years old, married to Casey and they have two sons Hudson and Ronan. They live in Davenport, Florida and both work for Disney World as VIP Tour Guides but were unfortunately recently laid off along with 28,000 other Cast Members.
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