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.
Danielle Edwards was arrested for a parole violation related to drug charges and sentenced to prison while pregnant with her daughter. In this episode she shares her experience with being pregnant while incarcerated, giving birth without any family support, and the physical and emotional toll of recovering from childbirth while in prison and separated from her baby. I was connected with Danielle for this interview by the Executive Director of Motherhood Beyond Bars, a non-profit organization that offers services to pregnant and postpartum women in prison in the Atlanta area.
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.
Become a listener supporter and gain access to archived episodes, a private Facebook community, and bonus content each month! This month we featured Amy Ard of Motherhood Beyond Bars, an organization that supports pregnant and postpartum women in prison.
Zahra Kassam, an early childhood education entrepreneur, delivered her two children with unmedicated hospital births using midwives and the hypnobirthing method. Having experienced both postpartum bliss and postpartum depression, she contrasts her two births, her miscarriage, and discusses the importance of mothers caring for themselves.
Zahra Kassam Bio
Zahra Kassam is Founder and CEO of Monti Kids: the only subscription service for children ages 0-3 that provides an authentic Montessori education, proven in schools for over 100 years. Zahra holds a BA in Psychology from Harvard and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is an internationally certified Montessori teacher at the infant, toddler, and preschool levels and a mother to two young boys.
Through Monti Kids, Zahra is filling the education void from birth to preschool, the most critical years of development when 85% of the brain is formed. Zahra has been invited to the White House Early Education Summit, named a Global Education Influencer, named a ‘World Changing Woman’ by Conscious Company Media, and was nominated for the Dalai Lama Unsung Heroes of Compassion Awards for her work with children. Zahra has appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and recently gave a TEDx talk on education for babies. Follow Zahra on Instagram @zahraikassam.
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After dealing with Gestational Diabetes that was insulin dependent for her fasting numbers and finding out she had Group B strep, Victoria had the most amazing, beautiful birth. She labored for 24 hours, pushed for 3 hours, all with the wonderful support of her doula and birth center. She had a birth plan and things went pretty well according to her plan.
Unfortunately things got harder postpartum. Victoria tried to breastfeed but got sick every time and it got progressively worse. Her baby had no wet diapers for 24 hours so she started to supplement with formula. After a lactation appointment where she mentioned how she’d been feeling, she was sent to the doctor the next day with a subclinical infection where they checked to make sure she didn’t have any remaining placenta. Her health continued to worsen, so she went back in to the doctor and found out she had high blood pressure, 30 lbs of swelling, a headache, and URQ pain. She was sent home and told to get a BP cuff. 4 hours later her blood pressure was in critical level and she was admitted to the hospital for severe post natal preeclampsia and stayed in the hospital for 4 days.
Victoria is still sorting out issues months later. She is now considered pre-diabetic, has high cholesterol, is still on blood pressure meds for chronic hypertension, and had to wear a heart monitor. She is working with a therapist for medically-based anxiety and PPA, and taking Zoloft. Victoria never had any health issues prior to pregnancy and now she feels like her body is failing her after such a joyous birth.
Victoria Buker Bio
Victoria is the Director of Development & Marketing for a non-profit and has over 15 years of non-profit development and sales experience. She and her husband welcomed their first child, Madison Kai, in June. Victoria has an MBA from Georgia Southern University and a BS in Biology from Mary Baldwin. Victoria loves to be outdoors: whether that is running, hiking, exploring her new town, SCUBA diving or paddle-boarding. She is thankful that her little babe loves being outside too and taking adventures with Victoria and her husband!
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Despite an autoimmune condition that can interfere with fertility, Amy Leigh became pregnant easily with her first son. It was uneventful – besides nausea until 23 weeks, and having to cut off her wedding ring due to being so swollen. Amy Leigh approached birth with great avoidance and the hopes that she would get an epidural, sleep through labor, wake up, and push a baby out without feeling any of it. She was instead induced with preeclampsia and her epidural did not work. This left her facing the reality of birth stuck in bed, hooked up to wires, and drowsy on magnesium. After pushing for 2 hours, her son was born, whisked away to be bathed, and Amy Leigh was left with a placenta that had to be manually extracted. Migraines, NICU time, constant pumping, and sleep deprivation finished out this traumatic experience that left her afraid of having another child.
After learning of her pregnancy with baby 2, Amy Leigh sought the help of a perinatal therapist. She was able to process and grieve her traumatic birth and approach the new birth with an open heart. Amy Leigh and Kevin hired a doula and worked with supportive OB. Her second son came on his own a few days before his due date. She decided to go for it at the last second and try an epidural again- this time it worked (inserted right as she hit transition). She and Kevin rested all night, and she peacefully gave birth with her doula and husband by her side, all within 12 hours. Her son remained on her chest for 2 hours after birth and was not bathed until the next day. With both births, a military PCS move followed shortly after, though the second time she was on a plane with a 2 year old and newborn just 12 days after giving birth.
Amy Leigh Fernandez Bio
Amy Leigh is a mom to 2 boys (Ryan, 3.5 years and Finn, 14 months), partner to Kevin. They are a military family living in Southern California with their boys & two black labs. Amy Leigh was inspired by healing from her own traumatic first birth to use her role as a clinical social worker to help other families. She is a licensed therapist for Hold Space Healing, a private psychotherapy practice in Temecula, CA, where she works with new moms, perinatal mental health and all “mom life” issues, as well as military family readiness and weight-inclusive wellness for those who want to stop dieting and make peace with food and body. She is currently working on her Perinatal Mental Health certification (PMH-C) with Postpartum Support International. Contact- holdspacehealing.com or @holdspacehealing on Instagram.
Motif Medical 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.
Megan and her husband, David, began trying for their first baby in the Spring of 2018. In April Megan learned she was pregnant with a due date of early January. She established care with a local Birth Center and had a fairly uneventful pregnancy. 40 weeks came and went and at 42 weeks, she was induced at the birth center as they would not be able to keep her in their care past 42 weeks. 30 hours later at 42 weeks 2 days and a transfer to the local hospital, their son, Caden, was born on January 20th at 9 lbs 2 oz and 22in long.
An uneventful pregnancy, marathon labor, and difficult postpartum opened Megan’s eyes to the various resources within her local birth community and sparked a fire in her to help inform new and expecting moms about what their options truly are when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Megan Taylor Bio
Megan was born, raised, and currently resides in McKinney, Texas with her husband (David), 7 month old Son (Caden) and 2 dogs (Kali and Piper). Megan works for a local nonprofit as a Grant Writer and teaches dance classes for low income youth within the community. Megan is a retired dancer and enjoys all things fitness related. Current hobbies include yoga and weight lifting. She also loves spending time with her family outdoors (except for those Texas summers), cooking with her husband, and traveling. Connect with her on Facebook- Megan Taylor (Morgan) or Instagram @megantaylor6813.