Originally from Toronto, Canada, Melody and her husband, Brian, were living in San Diego when they decided they wanted to start a family. They chose to move back to Canada to be closer to their families, and they settled in Vancouver. After having trying for a couple of months, Melody found out she was pregnant. She registered with an OBGYN team in Vancouver. Brian was offered a job in Toronto and they decided to take it, as most of their family and friends in Ontario. Melody was working in Vancouver and decided to continue working through her second trimester in order to qualify for maternity and parental leave, so Brian flew back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver during those three months.
In August, at the beginning of her third trimester, Melody flew home to Toronto. She registered with a midwifery practice and never looked back. Her sister gave birth to a baby boy who had to be rushed to SickKids in Toronto due to Coronary Heart Disease that went undiagnosed in pregnancy. He was at SickKids from August until October and Melody spent a lot of time going to the hospital to play with her niece.
This experience sparked anxiety and shaped Melody’s birth plan. She was open to anything, but decided to have a hospital birth, in case anything went wrong. Melody had prodromal labour for 3 weeks before the baby was born. She had two stretch and sweeps – one at 39 weeks and one at 40 weeks.
Finally at 41+2, she went into labor. It was early on a Friday morning and she was in denial over it for most of the day, due to the prodromal labor she’d been getting used to. She took the dog for a walk in the late afternoon and finally decided she was in labor. Her midwife checked her at around 8pm that night and she was at 2.5cm, which was what she had been at during her last stretch and sweep. Contractions were getting very intense and very close together within a couple of hours after her midwife left, and Melody decided she wanted to move to the hospital and get an epidural.
After an interesting ride in a Lyft (that poor man), she was admitted and promptly given a walking epidural at 11:30pm. At 2:30am, her midwife broke her water. At 8:30am, Melody was fully dilated, but her midwife suggested that they wait an hour or so before pushing, to let her body move the baby down on its own.
At 9:30, Melody started pushing, but the baby’s heart rate would go down with every push, so she would push for one contraction and then sway and do deep breathing for two contractions before pushing again. The baby was also stuck coming around the bend, so the midwife brought the OB team in, in case a vacuum assist was required. At this point, about 8 women and Brian were circling Melody, encouraging her to keep pushing, that she could do it without any assistance – it was like having a cheer squad around her.
At 10:28, their baby was born and immediately brought to Melody’s chest. The midwife asked Brian if it was a boy or a girl and he couldn’t tell because the cord was in the way. So they had to tell him it was a girl. She had a nuchal hand, so the back of her right hand was resting on her cheek, when she was born, which is why she was having difficulty coming out. Melody had a 2nd degree tear that they stitched up. The next couple of hours were peaceful. Melody and Brian chose her name – Lily – and Brian got her dressed. Melody’s dad and sister were both in town so they were able to come to the hospital to meet Lily. Within a couple of hours after the birth, they were home with Lily.
Postpartum, the first couple of weeks were incredibly difficult. Melody suffered from baby blues in the form of near crippling anxiety. It was terrifying. She spoke with a perinatal psychiatrist – OHIP covers all post-natal therapy for the first year after a baby is born – and also joined a mom group that focused on therapy for anxiety and depression. Luckily, after a few weeks, she started to feel like herself again and things have been looking up every day since then.
Melody Brownton Bio
Melody lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, Brian, and their 7-month-old daughter, Lily. She was a digital project manager and is hoping to enter into real estate once the world opens up again. She’s also an avid baker. Her instagram handle is @melodybrownton.
Tiara shares her experience being pregnant while serving active duty in the Navy and planning a home birth. For Tiara’s first birth, she planned a home birth instead of birthing in a military installation hospital. The driving force behind this decision was that Tiara had suffered a traumatic sexual assault while serving in the military and she wanted to be in a protected space where she could have some control and be heard.
Although Tiara had thoroughly researched the statistics of birth disparities and maternal moralities among black women, Tiara began to welcome her birthing time confidently because of the wealth of knowledge and support from her amazing midwives and loving husband. After 21 hours of active labor and 10 minutes of pushing, their daughter, Zoe was born February 19 at 11:19am.
Tiara Perry Bio
Tiara, originally from Cincinnati, enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after graduating high school. While stationed in Japan, she met her husband Devaun. After navigating their marriage through Tiara’s various lengthy deployments and finally being on shore duty, they weren’t trying to conceive but found out that they were expecting their first child. Connect with her on Instagram @tiaralashae.p
Today’s episode is brought to you by Britax Child Safety, Inc. For over 50 years, Britax has been focused on safety you can trust from the very first day. They welcome new moms and dads to parenthood with award-winning car seats and strollers for every lifestyle while providing extra confidence for the journey ahead. At the end of today’s episode, I talk with Britax safety advocate, Sarah Tilton, all about the importance of rear-facing. Learn more about Britax products and safety tips at us.britax.com.
When Bryn got pregnant with her third child, she planned for another unmedicated birth in a birth center. The plan changed when she was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) at 33 weeks and risked out of the birth center. The following weeks were filled with confusion and frustration as she switched to an OB practice and tried to gather as much information on ICP as she could. She was induced at 37 weeks, and her body ended up producing contractions on its own after minimal interventions. Although it was not what she pictured, Bryn was able to have a redemptive unmedicated birth.
Bryn was induced at 37 weeks for ICP. When she was admitted that morning at 6am, her cervix was closed, high and thick. At 9:30am, she was given one dose of cytotec, which gave her contractions that were a minute apart, though not painful. That dilated her to a 2, so they inserted a foley balloon at 1:30pm. Bryn got very lucky, and the resident allowed her to have 45 minutes off the monitor, 15 minutes on instead of continuous fetal monitoring. She was the first person her nurse had ever seen walk the halls with a foley in!
Only 2 hours later, the foley balloon fell out and she was dilated to a 6. The foley balloon allowed Bryn’s body to start contracting on its own, so it was decided she would not need Pitocin. With Bryn’s first two labors, her body stopped dilating (at 8 and 7 cm) and did not enter transition until her water was manually broken. This labor was no different, and when they checked her 4 hours later, she was still at a 6. Afraid of being in more pain and of a prolapsed cord, she did not consent to getting her water broken at that time, but continued to walk around and cope in the shower.
Bryn came close to getting an epidural at this point, but thanks to her doula and a nurse who had had unmedicated births herself, she was able to continue with her desired plan. At 9:30pm, they checked her again and she was still at a 6. Bryn chose to get a dose of fentanyl and have her water manually broken. Two contractions later, she was in transition. She had the urge to push at 10:20pm, and Israel was born just 4 minutes later!
Bryn Koger Bio
Bryn lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and 3 kids, Elias (5), Eden (3), and Israel (7 weeks). She is a stay-at-home mom, but also is trained as a doula and occasionally attends births.
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After 2.5 years of trying as well as a miscarriage in 2018, Susanna and Will found out they were pregnant with their rainbow baby in February 2019. They learned halfway through the pregnancy that Susanna would be induced due to high blood pressure. She went in at 39 weeks to be induced, hoping to avoid pain medications.
Things moved quite slowly and Susanna experienced very intense back labor due to her daughter being sunny side up. Thankfully, her mom and husband were both there to help support her through labor. They were invaluable! She spent a lot of time on the yoga ball and in the shower to help manage the pain. After about 24 hours of labor, her water broke and she was ready to ask for an epidural. Thankfully after a successful epidural her body was able to relax and fully dilate over the next 8 hours.
The baby turned over into a normal birthing position and after pushing for less than an hour, Will and Susanna welcomed their beautiful daughter Dahlia into the world. Following the birth, Dahlia had moderate jaundice which was carefully monitored each day with bloodwork. Within a week that cleared up and she is a healthy happy baby!
Susanna Birdwell Bio
Will and Susanna live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with their daughter Dahlia who is almost 7 months old. Susanna is a 5th grade teacher and Will is a paramedic who is also currently in firefighter school. Susanna is passionate about education, essential oils,toxin free living, and holistic health. Will enjoys music, strategy games, and shooting sports. They love spending time with friends and family, trying local restaurants, and cooking. Connect with her on Instagram @myketoteacherlife or via email at email@example.com.
Today’s episode was sponsored by Crate and Kids. Crate and Kids is all about empowering the self-expression of families through environments that spark creativity and encourage individuality. Their versatile collection celebrates each new stage and helps you design a nursery that’s an extension of your own personal style.
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Liz moved to a new city just outside of NYC right before the Coronavirus outbreak really set it. It turned out that her new city, New Rochelle, was a hotspot for COVID19 and quickly earned the label of “containment zone.” Liz struggled through the end of her pregnancy with concerns about her husband not being allowed at her baby’s birth and with her being separated from their baby for 14 days if she tested positive for COVID19. Thankfully, neither of those things happened and Liz gave birth with the help of her doula virtually through FaceTime. Read more about her experience being pregnant in a containment zone at the beginning of the outbreak here.
Liz Teich Bio
Liz is a New York based fashion stylist, lifestyle blogger, on-air style expert, and mom of two. Liz has been a professional commercial stylist for over a decade, styling fashion and home goods for print and digital advertising campaigns for major brands and retailers including Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Alex and Ani, Timberland, and Talbots. Through the campaigns she’s worked on she’s styled celebrities including Mike Tyson, Ashley Graham, and the cast of Stranger Things.
She has appeared as an on-camera style expert in campaigns for Magaschoni, Rent The Runway and White House Black Market, as well as a regular style & lifestyle expert for Fox5 New York. Liz has also appeared in, shared her style and lifestyle advice / written for Glamour Magazine, WomensHealth.com, BigCityMoms.com, AM New York, Mother.ly and Parents.
Styling bloggers for the TJMaxx “Maxxinista” campaign led Liz to launch her own blog and brand called The New York Stylist where she helps others live stylishly, covering fashion, motherhood, family, fitness, travel, beauty, home decor, and of course all things New York. Through her site, she has partnered with major brands including Rent The Runway, M.M. LaFleur, Aveda, Cybex, and Pampers to share some of her favorite products, services and styles.
After becoming a mom, Liz received many inquiries from moms around the country asking for help with their wardrobe. This led her to expand her business by incorporating personal styling to help moms learn how to dress for their new bodies and lifestyle while working with much of what they already have, and providing a focused approach to filling in what they may be missing.
Through her popular service “The Closet Cleanse”—whether in someone’s home or virtually—Liz has helped women achieve a well edited closet and clients tell her they’re saving money in the long run thanks to her expertise. One client remarked, “She really helped transform and declutter my post baby wardrobe. She’s like the gift that keeps on giving.”
You can find Liz on Instagram at @thenewyorkstylist and on her blog thenewyorkstylist.com
Naria and her husband, Luther, received unexpected news of their first pregnancy in January 2019. Though unexpected, years of being exposed to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences through family and education had prepared Naria to make informed decisions about the birth experience she wanted. Alongside her husband, nurse-midwife, doula, and mother, Naria was able to experience the unmedicated vaginal birth she wanted as she welcomed her baby girl Samaria Eve Menard. During her postpartum period, Naria struggled greatly with baby blues and with her adequacy as a mother. The words of wisdom from her doula sustained her during her time of transition into motherhood: ‘Surrender to the process’.
Naria Josefina Menard Bio
Naria was born and raised in NYC to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Her ethnicity as an Afro-Latina played a huge role in her upbringing and how she views the world around her. These cultural ideals shaped her decisions on her pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences. She currently resides with her husband of almost four years and her beautiful 7-month-old daughter in South Florida. There, Naria serves as a teacher to 9th grade students while also working on completing her doula certification in hopes to be a voice for women of color in the birthing world and to further educate women of color on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. You can connect with Naria on Instagram @mamanarnar30 and on Facebook at ‘Naria Josefina Menard’.