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

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

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: 



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Prodromal Labor, Walking Epidural, and Postpartum Anxiety

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.

prodromal labor

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.


Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum While in Prison

To listen to this episode, and hundreds more birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter Patreon here!

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.

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

Patreon Member

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.

Unmedicated Hospital Births & Postpartum Bliss vs PPD

To listen to this episode, and hundreds more birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter Patreon here!

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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Gestational Diabetes, Beautiful Birth Center Birth, and Postpartum Preeclampsia

To listen to this episode, and hundreds more birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter Patreon here!

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.

postpartum preeclampsia

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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