Prenatal PPD & PPA During COVID-19, IUGR, ECV, Breech Cesarean Birth with Virtual Doula

Following an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured one of Shana’s fallopian tubes, she unexpectedly got pregnant almost immediately after her first loss. At the time, she was living in London, England and preparing for her husband, Doug, to move in early 2020. During the first half of Shana’s pregnancy she dealt with heavy bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, untreated prenatal depression and anxiety, and was working towards submitting her PhD dissertation all whilst living on her own. As she and her husband were preparing for his transatlantic relocation, COVID-19 began shutting down borders, which prompted Shana to move back home to the DC area instead.

With the help of Shana’s long-time therapist in Maryland, she was introduced to both a psychiatrist specializing in perinatal mental health as well as Ursula, a doula and founder of Birth You Desire. With all three of their support and a special shout out to modern technology allowing for virtual services, Shana was able to do all she could to get her mind, body, and spirit prepared for the second half of pregnancy and everything ahead. At the start of her third trimester, Shana and Doug learned their baby was intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) and was breech, which required weekly visits to the midwife and OB for fetal monitoring as well as countless hours spent practicing Spinning Babies exercises, yoga, and receiving repeated chiropractic care. Whilst the conversations around the necessity of an early emergency cesarean section intensified as the weeks went on, their daughter had a miraculous growth spurt at 36 weeks, allowing her to reach full term (but was still stubbornly breech). An external cephalic version (ECV) was scheduled at 39 weeks.

Leading up to the ECV, it was uncertain whether their doula would be able to be physically present during the birth because of quickly changing COVID-19 restrictions. In a rare situation, Ursula’s virtual presence was a blessing because after 3 attempts of trying to get the baby to turn, Shana was taken into the operating room to deliver their daughter, Poppy, by cesarean section, whilst Ursula was on the phone with headphones shared between Shana and Doug offering support and guidance the entire time (even without COVID-19, it was unlikely she could be present for the ECV and certainly not in the OR).

new baby during covid

Aside from being more mucousy than what’s considered normal, Shana, Doug, and Poppy had a blissful first 24 hours together in the hospital. After that, however, an incredibly astute nurse noticed that Poppy would turn slightly blue when feeding and took her to the NICU for a quick peek. There everyone learned that Poppy was born with a fairly common congenital abnormality called tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA), an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea and between the esophagus and stomach. She was immediately transferred an hour away to the NICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital with Doug, whilst Shana waited to be discharged the following day. Poppy had a successful primary repair of her esophagus and trachea at 3 days old and then proceeded to be in the hospital for the better part of 4 months. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only one parent could be present in the hospital with Poppy at a time, so with the support of their families, Shana and Doug relocated to Baltimore to live in a nearby hotel. They encountered various complications including a blood infection, repeated narrowing of her esophagus, trouble feeding, terrible reflux, and very poor weight gain, which all required prolonged hospitalizations and several procedures. After 4 months, it was discovered that Poppy had a hiatal hernia caused from her initial surgery. She received a final surgery to address the hernia and had a gastric-tube put directly into her belly to help with feeding, which, so far, has made a tremendous difference in everyone’s quality of life.

Poppy is now nearly 6 months old and her parents are very much enjoying settling into their home as a family of 3 at long last. Shana is currently working through the cumulative trauma and complicated emotions around Poppy’s journey. Despite the challenges, Poppy wakes up every morning with the biggest smile on her face and is a stunning example of resilience and strength.

Shana Silverstein Bio

Shana lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband, Doug, their six month old daughter, Poppy Chaya, and their first baby, Marcel the Poodle. She is on the precipice of receiving her doctorate in neuroscience from University College London and the National Institutes of Health. Her research focuses on social learning and memory around empathy related behaviors. Shana is also a certified yoga teacher. Connect with her by email at shana.silverstein@gmail.com.

Motif Medical

This episode was sponsored by Motif Medical. Motif designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour

Working with Birth Coach Prenatally to Overcome Birth Anxiety Around Past Sexual Trauma

In the fall of 2019 after a crazy year of changing jobs, moving states, buying a house, and adopting a puppy, Sarah and her husband, Joe decided to start trying for a baby.  They were fortunate enough to conceive after the first month of trying. Once COVID- 19 hit in March of 2020 both Sarah and her husband moved out of their respective offices and into the home office, where they’ve been ever since.  

Sarah loved being pregnant and was able to remain active throughout her pregnancy.  Despite loving her pregnancy, Sarah started experiencing severe anxiety surrounding the birth at the beginning of her third trimester.  Sarah was sexually assaulted in her first year of graduate school and although she had done extensive therapy to heal, underlying issues surrounding  bodily autonomy and consent threatened her positive birth experience.  Through working together with a birth coach and her husband Sarah was able to overcome her anxiety and develop a plan to cope with any situation that would present itself during labor and delivery. 

Labor and delivery were demanding and despite her best efforts to naturally induce labor Sarah had to be medically induced at 41 weeks. While joyful, her postpartum period was physically difficult, and she and baby Grace had a challenging time establishing breastfeeding.

birth ball hospital

Sarah Sushchyk Bio

Sarah lives in central Massachusetts and works in regulatory affairs at a large pharmaceutical company in the area. She and her husband, Joe, met in Baltimore in 2012 where they were both pursuing their PhDs in Pharmaceutical Science.  They were married in 2017 and moved to Massachusetts shortly after. They welcomed their first child, Grace, on July 25th, 2020. The family enjoys taking long hikes with Cooper, their 85-pound fur baby. You can connect with Sarah on Instagram @ssushhythoms

Resources

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting moms find the perfect pump for her lifestyle. They offer all major pump brands including Medela, Spectra, Motif, Lansinoh, Ameda and more. And the best part, they take care of everything – including getting all required paperwork, dealing with your insurance company, and explaining your options in order to get your free pump shipped straight to your door. 

Bonus — you may also qualify for free maternity compression garments like compression socks, maternity support band, and a postpartum recovery garment PLUS breast pump resupply products ranging from new bottles, tubing, and flanges to duck valves and pump membranes. 

All you have to do is go to the Aeroflow Breastpumps website and fill out their free and easy Qualify Through Insurance form. Be sure to go to aeroflowbreastpumps.com/birthhour so they will know I sent you!  

Unmedicated Pitocin Induction Birth Story

An IVF pregnancy, Brittany and Mickey worked with a team of 2 midwives who delivered at their local hospital. COVID threw a wrench in their baby plans, and she ended up needing a medically required induction. When the first two induction methods didn’t work, Brittany was started on Pitocin. Thanks to their doula (who the hospital made a one-time-COVID exception for), they were able to make it through 19 hours of labor without an epidural. 

pitocin induction without epidural

Brittany Murlas Bio

Brittany is the Founder/CEO of LittleFeminist.com. Before starting Little Feminist book club, she got a crash course in all things baby as the 2nd employee of BabyList.com. She lives in Oakland, CA with her parter, fierce chihuahua and baby. 

Cord Blood Registry

We are so excited to introduce our new partnership with @CordBloodRegistry, also known as CBR. CBR has helped millions of parents bank their children’s newborn stem cells. Newborn stem cells have amazing potential for treatments in the future and cord blood stem cells have already been used for thirty years in stem cell transplants. It’s kind of like investing in your baby’s future health.

For a limited time, CBR is offering The Birth Hour listeners some pretty big discounts. Go to cordblood.com and use code: HOUR to get 60% off the Newborn Stem Cell Bundle which includes both cord blood and tissue banking. Visit their website to learn more about how newborn stem cell preservation could protect your whole family and why CBR is the #1 most recommended cord blood bank by families and OB/GYNs.

Using Hypnobirthing for Pregnancy Challenges and Childbirth

At Nathalie’s twenty week ultrasound, she learned that she was at high risk for placental challenges and pre-term labor. In the eighteen weeks between her twenty week ultrasound and birth, she would make over 52 visits to various doctor’s offices, including twice-weekly non-stress tests and dopplers. The gravity of Nathalie’s health challenges and her desire to make it to term caused an overwhelming amount of stress. To cope with her anxiety, Nathalie turned to Expectful’s meditations and hypnobirthing. Within one week of using Expectful, Nathalie saw her condition stabilize, and she was able to make it to term.

At 38 weeks and one day, Nathalie went into precipitous labor. She was so entranced with her hypnobirthing exercises that she didn’t realize she was in labor. Nathalie arrived at the hospital eight centimeters dilated and continued to labor unmedicated until it was time to push. At this time it became evident that she was having a placental abruption. Nathalie was quickly whisked away to the operating room, where she received general anesthesia and had an emergency c-section. Her delivery doctor called her birth “an emergency of all emergencies.”

hypnobirthing expectful

Thankfully, Nathalie and her son, Everett, have recovered, and both are doing well today. Her experience with the failure of the US healthcare system as it pertains to nurturing the mental and emotional wellbeing of pregnant and new mothers prompted her to leave her career in tech to join Expectful as the CEO.  Her motivation for joining Expectful is to provide universal access to evidence-based wellness solutions, such as meditation, that help millions of women worldwide navigate the new state of parenthood.

Nathalie Walton Bio

Nathalie is the CEO of Expectful, the go-to wellness app for growing families. She has spent the last eight years in leadership roles at Airbnb, Google, and eBay. Nathalie lives in San Francisco with her husband, Max, and their one-year old son, Everett. You can find Nathalie on IG @expectful or @nathaliewalton

Resource

Expectful Meditation App

Expectful

This episode is sponsored by Expectful – the #1 guided meditation & sleep app for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey. Just like you probably take a prenatal vitamin for your body, Expectful’s meditations are like a prenatal vitamin for your mind and can help you have a happier, healthier journey to parenthood. Whether you are TTC, pregnant, or postpartum, everything in the Expectful app was made just for this special moment in your life and created based on interviews with hopeful, expecting, and new parents just like you. Ready to reduce stress, improve sleep, and connect with your little one? Go to expectful.com/birthhour or download Expectful in the App Store to get started with a free trial today. 

Gentle Cesarean for Breech Baby & Difficulty Nursing + Postpartum Gallstones

Hillary got pregnant quickly after waiting two years to conceive to get her autoimmune disorder under control and develop a plan for managing the disorder while pregnant. At her 20 week anatomy scan, she learned her baby had a single umbilical cord artery.

With the pandemic underway in her second trimester, she learned at her 34 week check up that her baby girl was breech. After attempting Spinning Babies and chiropractic care to help the baby flip, she did an ECV at 37 weeks that was unsuccessful. She began planning for a surgical birth to be scheduled at 39 weeks, but her water broke a few days after the EVC.

With her doula on the phone as she and her husband Mike drove to the hospital, Hillary looked forward to the most positive birth she could. She and her husband played music, a nurse took photos, and she had a clear drape to allow her to see the baby coming out, and be placed on her chest. The baby needed phototherapy for jaundice the next day, but other than that, was totally healthy.

The biggest challenge back at home (besides sleeping!) was nursing; after 2.5 weeks and a consult with an amazing IBCLC lactation consultant, she weaned. At about 8 weeks postpartum, Hillary got very sick and went to the ER; she was admitted for several days because of gallstones and pancreatitis, and had surgery to remove her gallbladder. Then, about 6 weeks later, she was back in the ER: she had retained stones following gallbladder removal, a rare complication. After another multi-day hospitalization, she made it back home and has been snuggling her baby and her husband ever since.

gentle cesarean

Hillary Dixler Canavan Bio

Hillary Dixler Canavan lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mike and baby Claire. She works in food media, and you can find her on Instagram, @hillarydixlercanavan — she shares photos of food and her baby, and her DM’s are open.

Resources

Kindred Bravely

Today’s episode is brought to you by Kindred Bravely.  From adorable maternity wear to comfortable nursing bras, this mom-owned company has you covered.  See all of their comfy clothing at kindredbravely.com! I especially love their Simply Sublime nursing tank, their high waisted leggings (for pregnancy AND postpartum). Listen to this episode for a special coupon code and to hear about my new favorites in their loungewear including the Clea Bamboo PajamasBetsy Ribbed Bamboo Nursing & Maternity Nightgown, and Bamboo Maternity & Postpartum Lounge Pants.


Switching from Homebirth to Hospital Induction for Preeclampsia

After experiencing several early miscarriages, Danielle was excited to finally have a sticky pregnancy and was planning a home birth. At 33 weeks, Danielle noticed excessive swelling and asked her midwife to check her blood pressure.  It was uncharacteristically high and she unfortunately developed preeclampsia. She quickly had to switch her plans from a home birth to a hospital induction.

After a nearly 3 day induction, including 24 hours of Pitocin and back labor the whole time, she was able to birth her daughter vaginally. Her daughter was born just in time, because her placenta showed clear signs of deterioration and was no longer providing sufficient nutrients to her baby. Danielle discusses her daughter’s subsequent NICU stay and dealing with postpartum anxiety. She also discusses the depression and anxiety she experienced during her miscarriages and trying to conceive journey as well as issues she faced as a black pregnant woman in New York City. 

doula support hospital

Danielle Thompson Bio

Danielle is an attorney, doula, and childbirth educator. After a 7-year stint in Manhattan, she currently lives back in her hometown of Berkeley, California with her husband, Brian, 2 year old daughter, Gemma, and dog, Azula. Danielle, a biracial, black woman, has also published in the area of black maternal health and justice (link to her work below) and hopes to continue that work in the future. Connect with her on Instagram: @danielleohello or via Email: Danielle.thompson512@gmail.com 

Resources

Peanut

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.

Download the app for free today!