After becoming pregnant in January of 2020, professional marathon runner Sarah Crouch continued training at a high level throughout her pregnancy (listening to The Birth Hour every single day as she ran!) and pursuing work as a birth doula as Covid overtook the country and changed the landscape of birth work. Sarah was one of the 5% of women who go into labor on their due date and labored at home for several hours with her husband and her doula, Betsy, before traveling across town in the middle of the night to the Flagstaff Birth and Women’s Center.
A completely unmedicated 16-hour labor completely rewrote the pain threshold that Sarah thought she had maxed-out as a professional endurance athlete and finally, just before eight in the morning, her daughter Charlotte was born.
The next four months were the hardest of Sarah’s life as she battled severe Postpartum Depression, anxiety and insomnia that resulted in a trip to the Emergency room among other hardships. Sarah’s birth story is all about the process of relearning what the body is capable of and the power of accepting the new role of motherhood.
Sarah Crouch Bio
Sarah Crouch, 31, is a professional endurance athlete and is one of the fastest marathon runners in America. She is also a running coach and a certified Birth Doula. Sarah currently lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband, Michael and their seven-month old daughter, Charlotte. You can follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahcrouch1989.
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Natalia was camping when her water broke in the middle of the night at 34 weeks pregnant. She’d planned to birth at a birth center but instead had to go straight to the hospital, a place she’d avoided since the onset of Covid early in her pregnancy. She initially felt empowered & positive about the unmedicated birth that followed. After a challenging two-week NICU stay, her postpartum recovery seemed to stall. The physical results of birth — including pelvic congestion, hypertonic PF, urethral hypermobility & prolapse — have led to a slow journey of healing from birth’s physical & emotional tolls.
Natalia Hurt Bio
Natalia met her husband a decade ago while backpacking in Nepal. He’s from Luxembourg & she’s half German, so they’ve lived in Europe for most of their relationship. They now live in Portland, Oregon, with their son Tristan & are excited to share the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with him. She’s not very active on social media but can be reached via her instagram account: @afarcorner.
This episode is sponsored by Wumblekin. Life’s busy and there’s a lot of noise out there, that can be especially true during pregnancy. Wumblekin breaks down pregnancy, labor and birth with evidence-based education and expert-curated products for mom and baby. Easily buy or gift single boxes, or subscribe to receive them throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Be informed and prepared by ordering Wumblekin pregnancy, birth and postpartum essentials, today! Get 15% off your first box by using promo code BIRTHHOUR at checkout. Visit wumblekin.com to order or subscribe, today!
After two years of no periods, countless doctors’ appointments and testing, Monica was told she and her husband, Alex, would need to pursue fertility treatments in order to have a biological child. Despite having always wanted to be parents, Monica and Alex decided to wait on fertility treatments and focus on other areas of their lives. It was devastating. Imagine their shock when a routine monthly pregnancy test came back positive only a few months later!
Monica’s pregnancy progressed normally at first, despite a rough bout of morning sickness. Their son, whom they would name Otis, was healthy. Monica finally wasn’t throwing up anymore. She dove headfirst into researching every type of birth possible, ultimately settling on a hospital birth at a regional hospital only 7 minutes away from their house. She found a midwife and OB-GYN she got on with and trusted. But something changed towards the beginning of her third trimester. She began to feel generally unwell, was gaining weight rapidly and swelling up. Her labs were normal, she had low blood pressure, and there was no protein in her urine. Fundal height measurements consistently 5-6 weeks ahead of where her baby was in growth and development didn’t seem to alarm her doctors.
Monica trudged on into the 30th, 31st, and 32nd weeks of her pregnancy feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and ill. At a friend’s wedding the last week of July, people were shocked to learn that despite looking like she was due any day with twins, Monica wasn’t due until the end of September. None of the books she had read, or research she had so meticulously done, had prepared her for how sick and self-conscious she was feeling in the moment.
On August 6th, a Tuesday, Monica’s membranes ruptured at 33 weeks and 1 day. The regional hospital wasn’t equipped to delivery preterm babies, so she was medevaced by helicopter to a larger hospital an hour away. After three days on strict bedrest, she delivered a healthy baby who spent two weeks in the NICU.
Despite her original birth plan (which included going into spontaneous labor and laboring at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital) being completely throw out the window (in this case, taken away in a helicopter), she felt safe in the care of her new doctors and nurses and found a network of support in the NICU that she would lean on for months to come.
Monica Giannulis Bio
Monica lives in Palmer, Alaska with her husband Alex and their rambunctious almost two-year-old son, Otis. Both she and her husband were born and raised in Alaska and are thrilled they get to raise their son in such an incredible place. When Monica’s not cleaning up the aftermath of Otis’s latest adventure or discovery, you can find her family taking walks along the Matanuska River, riding their bikes around town, or hanging out at their favorite brewery. You can follow her on Instagram at @monicagiannulis.
The Postpartum Circle Podcast by Maranda Bower (@postpartummaranda *Instagram*)
HM4HB (Human Milk for Human Babies) network (facebook groups by region, for breastmilk donations)
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At the 35 week mark, Joelle, her husband, and her birth team made the mutual decision to transfer her care away from a home birth practice to a midwife-led OB/GYN practice that her midwife also practiced through due to concerns about mental health & preparation for home birth. From that point on, she experienced some regular episodes of prodromal labor. At 38 weeks and two days on January 19th, Joelle unexpectedly went into spontaneous labor. She tried some lower pain interventions including hydrotherapy, partner support, counter pressure, and IV pain medication. In the end, due to exhaustion, Joelle opted for an epidural and went on to deliver her daughter shortly after noon on Inauguration Day.
Joelle Hamilton Bio
Joelle Hamilton lives with her husband Ben and daughter Iris in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she’s not studying or making sure Iris gets her daily conversations with the mirror in, she loves playing video games, journaling, crafting, writing, and experimenting with tarot, astrology, and all sorts of other weird stuff. Connect with her at @hamilton.joelle on Instagram.
Mom’s Bloom Postpartum Support Program in Grand Rapids Michigan
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Lottie found out she was pregnant in May of 2020. She originally established care with an OB but after listening to so many birth stories where moms mentioned the importance of trusting your care providers, she transferred care to a midwife group at 24 weeks. Pregnancy was pretty easy and uneventful (Lottie LOVED being pregnant) until she noticed some brown spotting at 33 weeks. An ultrasound revealed asymmetrical intrauterine growth restriction—her baby’s head was measuring consistently with 33 weeks, but her abdomen was measuring abnormally small. To be safe, the midwives decided to do NSTs twice a week to monitor the baby.
A few days later Lottie listened to episode #512 of The Birth Hour where Grace Green shared one of her birth stories and discussed the importance of monitoring fetal movement, the stillbirth rates in America, and the Count the Kicks app. She was particularly struck by this episode and downloaded the app and started counting her baby’s kicks right away. Five days later, on December 8th, Lottie noticed her baby hadn’t been moving all morning. She spent the next hour actively trying to get baby to move while her husband packed the hospital bag. When there was still no movement, she went into the midwives for an NST.
The NST was non-responsive so they did a biophysical profile (BPP) which showed no breathing movements, fetal movements, or tone. At this point Lottie was sent to the hospital where she had an emergency c-section. Their baby girl, Clementine, was born not breathing but miraculously was alive. They found out later that Clementine had hemorrhaged in the womb and the decreased blood levels caused her brain to be deprived of oxygen (HIE). As a result, she had a grade III/IV intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleed) that led to seizures and hydrocephalus. This led to a 50-day NICU stay but by the grace of God she is home now and thriving. Lottie and Kelly are loving their new life as a family of three.
Lottie O’Sullivan Bio
Lottie lives just outside of Winston Salem, NC with her husband, Kelly, and four-month-old daughter, Clementine. When she is not busy working as a credit analyst or snuggling Clementine, she enjoys making pottery, cooking, sewing, reading, visiting vineyards, being involved at her church, and hanging out with her “flossy posse.”
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Sara became pregnant with her first child at the very beginning of the pandemic. Her pregnancy was smooth until the end of her second trimester, when her doctor recommended a growth scan since her fundal height was measuring quite low. The scan showed that the baby was measuring very small – under the third percentile for weight. However, weekly scans showed consistent growth and that the baby was healthy and active. At a routine MFM appointment at 35 weeks, it seemed that growth had drastically slowed down, and she was sent to be induced immediately.
Sara’s induction began with a foley bulb, inserted overnight, and then Pitocin for the next 24 hours. 36.5 hours after being admitted (but after only 20 minutes of pushing!), Liora was born. Her husband announced the sex, and it was the most beautiful moment of Sara’s life. They were also shocked by the baby’s weight – 4 lbs, 5 oz, about half a pound larger than predicted by ultrasound. Sara and her baby got a few minutes of skin to skin before the baby was taken to the NICU.
Sara and her husband were able to stay overnight in the NICU in a “couplet” room until Sara was discharged. They were blown away by the care and compassion of their entire care team. Liora stayed in the NICU for a total of 17 days to put on weight and regulate her temperature and is now a healthy and chunky 6-month-old.
Sara Gottlieb-Cohen Bio
Sara lives in New Haven, CT with her husband (Andrew), daughter (Liora), and their mini goldendoodle (Moose). Sara and Andrew both work at Yale University. Andrew is a clinical social worker at the Yale Child Study Center, and Sara works in the library providing data and statistical support to scientists across the university. Sara can be reached on Instagram @sara.gottlieb or on Facebook (Sara Gottlieb-Cohen).
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