Birth in Saudi Arabia: Unmedicated Hospital birth vs Cesarean & Healing Diastasis Recti Postpartum

This episode is shared in two parts.

Zahra’s first birth was an unmedicated hospital birth followed by a 5 day NICU stay. Her second birth was a Cesarean birth after a prolonged labor due to weak abdominal muscles. A few days after her second birth, she explains that her tummy “fell apart”. She is now doing rehab to heal an eight finger wide diastasis recti from the navel down.

Zahra talks about how birthing practices are different in Saudi Arabia than in the United States and wanted to shed light on the issue of diastasis recti and how this serious condition can affect your quality of life to a large extent. Also, many people might be surprised to hear that there is hope for fixing your diastasis recti through physical therapy rather than surgery even when, as in her case, your doctor might say that surgery is your only option.

Zahra Alawami Bio

Zahra lives in Saudi Arabia with her husband and two children. She lived in Milwaukee, WI for five years while studying psychology at UWM. She doesn’t miss the snow or the winter even though it’s been six years since she returned home. But she would love to visit Milwaukee during the summer anytime! She is very passionate about everything relating to child rearing and raising children (A degree in psychology is to blame!. She enjoys snuggling her babies, cooking, drinking coffee, listening to podcasts, and has recently picked up Sourdough baking at home!

Connect with Zahra on Facebook or via email at


Motif Medical

Part I of 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


Part II of 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 to order or subscribe, today!

Precipitous Unmedicated Hospital Birth at 36 Weeks

Daniela got pregnant very quickly after removing her IUD. She had a fairly easy pregnancy with the usual symptoms of waddling, weight gain, and a small bladder! She says that the silver lining of being pregnant during COVID was being able to work from home the whole time and in fact most of her coworkers had no idea she was pregnant.

Daniela was 36 weeks along when her water broke so it was a bit of a shock. Contractions began worsening as they ran around packing bags. They arrived at the hospital at 8:45 (just two hours after her water broke) and they admitted her into the triage room.

She felt that the nurses didn’t believe her level of pain and tried to test if her water actually broke but there was not enough fluid coming out.

They finally checked her again 45 minutes later and realized she was 6cm dilated. She was then rushed to the delivery room where she quickly got naked and on all fours and was roaring like a beast & began speaking in only Spanish for reasons unknown to her!

36 week preemie

Daniela felt the ring of fire and every single contraction and credits practicing diaphragmatic breathing during pregnancy with helping her cope. The nurses still didn’t take her seriously and her body started pushing by itself. No one had any idea she was pushing (of course that was the exact moment her husband went to go use the bathroom so he missed the birth!

The baby fell out onto the bed with no one was there to catch the baby right away. Everyone was in shock! They found out they had a baby boy, born at 10:25, just under 4 hours after water broke. Lots of tests were done since their baby was early and and he had jaundice but nothing super serious and they were able to go home after 3 days in the hospital.

Daniela’s doula told her after the birth that this was the first time in her hundreds of births that nurses had treated a couple the way they had been treated which led them to send in a complaint.

preemie at 18 months

Daniela Hoag Bio

Daniela is 29 years old and has been married for two years to her husband. They both work in the tech industry and live in downtown Seattle. They have a 7 month old baby boy and a husky fur baby. @swaggy__dannyb


  • Atlas Birth in Seattle – Louis Perez doula
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing – Hannah Bower course on breathing
  • The Birth Hour podcast

Aeroflow Breastpumps

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Gestational Hypertension Emergency Induction + NYC Birth During Covid

Ashley’s First Birth

During her first pregnancy, Ashley planned for an unmedicated hospital birth at her hospital’s natural birthing center. Ashley only has one kidney as a result of a Wilms tumor at birth and received close monitoring for pre-eclampsia due to gestational hypertension. She was induced at 39 weeks, 5 days due to consistently high blood pressure readings. She was induced with Pitocin and labored well for 15 hours with the support of her husband and doula. Her water broke on its own around hour 8. She didn’t know her son was posterior, which caused the nurses to be unable to successfully monitor his heart rate with the traditional monitor. After 3 failed attempts to place an internal monitor, the OB on call required Ashley to labor in the hospital bed. At that point, she requested an epidural after learning she was only 4-5cm.

Labor progressed fairly quickly at that point and she was ready to push around 3pm. During this time, the OB on call was rushing back and forth between Ashley’s room and the ER. Another patient of the practice had come in with an ectopic pregnancy and needed emergency surgery. This was rather chaotic and most of the 2.5 hours spent pushing was with the nurses and her doula. Due to his posterior position and the epidural wearing off, Ashley experienced excruciating pain during transition and pushing.

Because the OB on call ended up in emergency surgery, her OB rushed in from her home an hour away to come deliver her baby. The nurses didn’t think her OB would make it in time, so they called an attending and resident in to deliver Ben. They attending didn’t think Ashley could deliver the baby without help, so she received an episiotomy without her consent from the attending as her OB ran into the room. The baby was crowning at that point and he was delivered quite quickly. The resident nearly dropped her son as he was delivered. Ben was born at 8 lbs 4oz. Ashley lost as significant amount of blood and had to have retained placenta extracted manually. She also tore in addition to the episiotomy.

Ashley had a pretty rough recovery from the episiotomy and tears. Benjamin struggled to gain weight in the first few weeks home from the hospital. He was diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie when he was 2.5 weeks old. Ashley struggled with breastfeeding throughout the first year. We were blessed by donor milk and nursed until Ben was 14 months old. Between his traumatic birth and their breastfeeding struggles,  Ashley waited until Ben was almost 4 to get pregnant again.


Ashley’s Second Birth

Ashley got pregnant with Cara in September 2019. The pregnancy was pretty similar to Ben’s with blood pressure issues, but nothing terribly concerning. We went into quarantine as Ashley neared the 3rd trimester. She feared her husband and doula wouldn’t be able to join her for delivery as many hospitals restricted visitors. She shared her concerns on Bryn’s zoom calls and received immense support from the Birth Hour community. Protocols changed regularly, but she was able to have her husband and doula attend Cara’s birth due to executive orders signed by New York’s governor. Ashley was induced again at 38 weeks 2 days for high blood pressure.

Labor went much quicker this time and lasted exactly 6 hours from the start of pitocin to Cara’s arrival. Pitocin began at 6:30am and her doula arrived at 9am. Her OB broke her water at 9:30am at 4cm and her husband arrived shortly thereafter. She asked for an epidural around 11am and it was placed by 1130am. Her OB checked her once the epidural was place and she was already 8cm. By noon Ashley was feeling intense pressure and thought her catheter wasn’t inserted properly. Her doula went to look for the nurse and her OB came running in and told her to stop pushing. It turns out the baby already was crowning. Cara was delivered in a few pushes and no tearing. Ashley hardly pushed and felt her body did nearly all of the work on its own. Cara was 8 lbs and 6oz.

Ashley had an easy recovery and felt amazing postpartum. They were discharged at 24 hours post-delivery as a result of Covid protocol. Cara ended up having jaundice and being admitted to the NICU for two days to get her bilirubin levels back to normal. Between Cara’s lip and tongue tie and the unexpected NICU stay, Ashley struggled again with breastfeeding. Thanks to the support of her amazing IBCLC and donor milk, they’re still nursing two weeks before Cara’s first birthday.

Ashley Espejo Bio

Ashley lives on Long Island, NY with her husband, five year old, Ben and almost one year old Cara. She also has a 19 year old stepdaughter, Darlene. She is a tax manager at a private equity fund in New York City. Ashley loves hanging out with her family, going to the beach, coffee and riding her peloton. You can connect with her on Instagram at @Mrs_espejo and on Facebook.

Kindred Bravely

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Preeclampsia, Long Failed Induction and Emergency C-section

Cara and her husband, George decided they wanted to begin their family immediately after getting married in 2019. They were shocked at how quickly they fell pregnant in October. Cara is a medical student so during the beginning of her pregnancy, she was taking classes like human anatomy which involved dissecting a human cadaver all while being 10 weeks pregnant. 

Cara’s pregnancy was uneventful until around 28 weeks when her husband and parents all came down with COVID, which caused her to miss several appointments with her Ob/Gyn.

When she finally got back to the doctor, her blood pressure was high and they knew she was most likely developing preeclampsia. Cara was diagnosed with preeclampsia around 31 weeks of pregnancy. This led to her needing an induction at 37 weeks. Cara’s labor was long, and involved multiple interventions, like cytotec, a foley bulb, and epidural, until ultimately she went forward with a c-section due to suspicion of chorioamnionitis (infection of amniotic sac and placenta). Prior to the decision to go ahead with the c-section she developed a high fever which was indicative of an infection in her uterus. After 47.5 hours of labor, she and her husband welcomed their son, Lucas into the world on June 2, 2020 at 5:26 pm weighing 7 lb 10 oz and measuring 21.5 inches. 

emergency cesarean preeclampsia

Cara continued to struggle with an elevated blood pressure due to preeclampsia even after she gave birth, but was able to completely stop taking blood pressure medication at 12 weeks postpartum. 

Connect with Cara on Instagram at @caragrudziak___ .



Today’s episode is sponsored by Owlet. Meet the Owlet Pregnancy Band, an at-home pregnancy monitor using innovative, passive technology to give you peace of mind and the reassurance you crave through daily insights into your baby’s well-being. You can listen to your baby’s heartbeat, see Baby’s trends through the night and over several days, track Mom’s sleep position, and read weekly gestational updates about your pregnancy all in the Owlet Pregnancy App. Right now get exclusive access to the Owlet Band in its beta program and save $100. Get yours now, before spots fill up, at

Full Spectrum Family Medicine Doctor Shares Hospital and Home Birth Stories

During her second year of residency Lisa and her husband decided to expand their family.  Her pregnancy was uncomplicated and she went into labor on her own.  Labor and delivery were also pretty uncomplicated for a first time delivery, other than a pushing stage of a little over 3 hours and a fever.  She was able to deliver without other complications and was surrounded by her co-residents.  Breastfeeding had a hard start though mostly from the baby having a tongue tie that was released at about 1 week, which greatly improved her nursing journey.   

After graduating and working as a full spectrum family medicine doctor in rural Maine, her family decided to try for a second child. This time she and her husband decided they would like to have a home birth. She again had a routine pregnancy.  Her labor started on its own again and progressed much more quickly this time.  After 3 hours of active labor, she experienced a fetal ejection reflex. She really enjoyed the postpartum recovery at home. 

hospital birth rural maine

Lisa Stout Bio

Lisa lives in rural Maine with her husband Jeremiah and their two boys, ages 7 and 5.   She practices full spectrum family medicine. Her husband stays at home with their sons.  Connect with Lisa on Instagram @stoutberger.



Today’s episode is sponsored by Esembly- a new diapering system for sustainability. Esembly provides EVERYTHING you need to to radically reduce diaper waste, from organic diapers and skincare, to upcycled storage bags and specially-formulated diaper-cleaning detergent. Their complete system, coupled with their 4 step wash instructions, make cloth diapering simple enough for any sleep deprived new parent to master. And just 44 of their reusable diapers is all you’ll need from birth to potty training- compared to 6500+ diapers if you’re using disposables! Esembly diapers don’t just save thousand of diapers from sitting in landfills, they save you thousands of dollars too! Not to mention, they are blowout-proof and insanely adorable.

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34 Week Delivery + Challenging Postpartum Physically & Emotionally

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 to order or subscribe, today!