Unmedicated Birth Center Birth with Marathon Runner + PPD Discussion

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. 

Enjoying a 90-minute run while 9-months pregnant

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.

Resources

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

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. 

Resources 

Wumblekin

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!

PPROM Medevac Birth and NICU Story in Alaska

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.

preeclampsia life flight

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 birth story

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. 

Resources

  • The Postpartum Circle Podcast by Maranda Bower (@postpartummaranda *Instagram*)
  • HM4HB (Human Milk for Human Babies) network (facebook  groups by region, for breastmilk donations)

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting parents discover the breastfeeding and postpartum essentials covered by their insurance including breast pumps and maternity compression and postpartum recovery products, they take care of everything – including all paperwork, working with your insurance company, and explaining your options to get these free essentials shipped straight to your door.

Aeroflow offers all major breast pump brands including Medela, Spectra, Motif, Lansinoh, Ameda, Elvie, Willow and more.

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 we sent you! Bonus — use the promo code “TBH15” in their online shop for 15% off all supplies and accessories.

Pregnancy During Covid, Induction at 41 Weeks + Hiring a Postpartum Doula

Allison longed to have a baby for years. It wasn’t the right time until she completed a 10 month teaching fellowship in China. Once she got back home, she and her partner Devin moved quickly. They bought a house, got married and became pregnant all within 5 months. 

She had a physically easy pregnancy but it took a toll on her emotionally once COVID-19 hit in her second trimester. She was very grateful for her healthy pregnancy but felt like she was robbed of her first pregnancy experience due to the pandemic. Her husband couldn’t come to her ultrasounds or appointments, her baby shower was canceled and she couldn’t share her pregnancy with her family and friends. 

Allison’s due date came and went and after a valiant attempt at inducing labor naturally, she ended up getting medically induced at 41 weeks. After a long 36 hour labor, nearly 5 hours of pushing and a forceps delivery, her daughter Finley was born. 

The 4th trimester was challenging for Allison, but breastfeeding was successful. She decided to hire a postpartum doula and that was a total game changer. Nearly 3 months after Finley’s birth, Allison ended up in the ER due to a gallbladder attack. She opted to have her gallbladder removed and hasn’t looked back since.

pregnancy during covid

Allison Katayama Bio

Allison lives in Vallejo, CA with her husband Devin and 7 month old daughter Finley. She is a stay at home mom at the moment but an ESL teacher by trade. She has been a big fan of the Birth Hour for a very long time and is a graduate of the Know Your Options course. Allison hopes that her story will resonate with other moms and moms-to-be! She is very happy to connect with anyone who would like to reach out. Connect with Allison at demerise89@gmail.com.

Resources

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting parents discover the breastfeeding and postpartum essentials covered by their insurance including breast pumps and maternity compression and postpartum recovery products, they take care of everything – including all paperwork, working with your insurance company, and explaining your options to get these free essentials shipped straight to your door.

Aeroflow offers all major breast pump brands including Medela, Spectra, Motif, Lansinoh, Ameda, Elvie, Willow and more.

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 we sent you! Bonus — use the promo code “TBH15” in their online shop for 15% off all supplies and accessories.

Unmedicated Hospital birth during COVID-19 and Hurricane + Postpartum Anxiety

After planning for a baby for years, the time finally came for Kayla and her husband to start trying. They successfully got pregnant fairly quickly, but found their timing to be all but perfect as news of the pandemic began to spread. Although adapting to this new way of life during pregnancy was difficult, Kayla had a relatively normal pregnancy and planned for an unmedicated hospital birth with midwives.

At her 38 week appointment, Kayla was told that she was 4cm dilated, fully effaced, and her water bag was bulging. Later that afternoon, contractions began and really picked up later in the evening. Around midnight, contractions were intense so her and her husband headed for the hospital. Upon arrival, Kayla was 8cm dilated, but contractions slowed way down and labor continued for 9 hours before pitocin was administered and she finally reached 10cm. She had a little cervical lip, so with the help of her midwife, she was able to push baby Denver out after a little over an hour. Her healthy baby boy was born at 11:33am on August 4, 2020.

Her postpartum period was relatively smooth since her mom was able to come down to Virginia for 3 weeks. However, after the initial excitement wore off, Kayla realized that she was dealing with some postpartum anxiety and saw a counselor for help with dealing with her scary thoughts. Seeing the counselor and working with some self-help techniques really helped, and Kayla is thoroughly enjoying being a momma!

Kayla Sikes Bio

Kayla lives in Portsmouth, Virginia with her husband, Trevor, and son, Denver. Her and her husband are both from North Pole, Alaska and came to Virginia because of Trevor’s job in the Navy. Kayla works for local government as a Wellness Coordinator and loves working with people so much that she’s currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health. She enjoys being active and spends as much time outdoors with her son and husband as possible. Connect with her on Instagram @kayradee.

Resources

BabyCube

This episode is sponsored by BabyCube. Your baby’s first year can really fly by and if you’re like me you may feel guilty for not keeping up with that baby book you got at your shower. BabyCube is a simple & easy way to capture memories by adding photos as you go in a user-friendly platform that organizes your baby’s first year week-by-week in a visual timeline. Then, at the end of the year (or when you’re ready) each weekly note & photo is printed and sent to you in a beautiful engraved wooden box. My favorite part is that you can start and finish at your own pace so it’s perfect for parents who need flexibility! And, it is definitely a great alternative to those baby books or journals we all feel like we should be filling out but somehow never do! For a limited time, BabyCube is offering 20% off to birth hour listeners with the coupon code BIRTHHOUR20 at babycubeglobal.com.

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