Two Unmedicated, Empowering Births for a Preterm Baby and a High-Risk Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes

Surprise Preterm Birth at 34 Weeks

Lauren got pregnant relatively easily at age 34 years. The early weeks of this pregnancy were marked by uncertainty and anxiety, after an abnormal result on the nuchal translucency screening in the first trimester. Non-invasive prenatal testing later showed normal results, and she was followed closely by Maternal Fetal Medicine during the second trimester with additional ultrasounds and an echocardiogram. At 27 weeks, Lauren was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which she managed with diet and exercise. At 34 weeks, she unexpectedly went into preterm labor. Her baby was born after an unmedicated labor that happened quickly toward the end (from 7 cm to baby in 30 minutes!). Charlotte spent 23 days in the NICU, which was stressful but the parents were thankful that she mostly needed to feed and grow.

Complicated Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes, ending with an Empowering Unmedicated Birth

Once Lauren turned 37 years old, she felt her biological clock ticking and felt a strong desire to have their second baby earlier than originally planned. Surprisingly (but thankfully!) she got pregnant on the first cycle after her IUD was removed, and suspected she was pregnant three days before she got the positive test on the early response test. This pregnancy was more medically complicated than the first – she had gestational diabetes once more, and it required insulin this time. She also had weekly progesterone shots from 16 to 36 weeks to prevent another preterm birth. By the third trimester, when she walked into the Maternal-Fetal Medicine office, the staff knew both her name and date of birth without Lauren having to tell them! Lauren did prenatal yoga, mindfulness practice, and lots of walking during this pregnancy. She also used her research skills as a professor to read up on original empirical research studies and ACOG recommendations to educate and advocate for herself. Despite this complicated pregnancy, at 38 weeks Lauren had a spontaneous, natural, beautiful, empowering unmedicated birth that was everything she wanted. Baby Madeline completed their family and Lauren is thankful for all she learned about her body and mind during her two pregnancies.

Throughout both birth stories, Lauren speaks about educating yourself, surrounding yourself with supportive birth partners, and advocating for yourself in a medical setting. She believes that it is of utmost important for a birthing person to feel heard, supported and valued by her providers.

Lauren Jax Bio

Lauren Jax lives in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania with her husband Steve and kids Charlotte (2015) and Madeline (2018). She is a college professor, and she teaches and researches about developmental psychology.



Today’s episode is sponsored by Babylist. The people at Babylist believe that you should be able to get exactly what you need for your unique and growing family. That’s why their baby registry easily lets you add any item from any store. Plus, Babylist helps you each step of the way with their customized checklist, product guides and reviews, and personal registry consultants. They’ve even got group gifting! Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth over $100 while boxes last.

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: 



Peanut is an app that helps you make meaningful connections throughout all stages of motherhood. Peanut provides a safe space for mothers, expectant mothers and those trying to conceive to build friendships, ask questions and find support by introducing you to others nearby who are at a similar stage in life, Peanut provides access to a community who is there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice: Whether it’s understanding IVF, adoption, pregnancy, baby’s first years or beyond, Peanut is a place to connect with other moms in the thick of it.

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Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome Induction Birth Story

Sara was able to get pregnant pretty quickly and had a routine pregnancy up until 35 weeks. At her 35 week appointment she had high blood pressure and had to go to the hospital for monitoring. After a couple of days her blood pressure began to climb higher and she was diagnosed with preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Sara was induced and after a fairly quick labor gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Patrick. She had to stay in the hospital a little longer than usual while the doctors got her blood pressure under control and found the right mix of medications. By 12 weeks postpartum she was back to somewhat normal and they have all been settling in as a family of three.

35 week preemie

Sara Ryan Bio

Sara Ryan is originally from Sacramento, California but currently lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina. After graduating from University of California – Davis, she moved to Washington, DC where she met her husband, Chris. After a few years working in DC, Sara decided to move to North Carolina to get her MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler (Go Tarheels!) and settled in Charlotte after graduation in order to start her career in banking. After a couple years in Charlotte, Sara and Chris decided they were ready to expand their family and welcomed a baby boy, Patrick, in the fall of 2019. Sara enjoys yoga, gardening, knitting, and convincing her husband to take on increasingly ambitious house projects.



Peanut is an app that helps you make meaningful connections throughout all stages of motherhood. Peanut provides a safe space for mothers, expectant mothers and those trying to conceive to build friendships, ask questions and find support by introducing you to others nearby who are at a similar stage in life, Peanut provides access to a community who is there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice: Whether it’s understanding IVF, adoption, pregnancy, baby’s first years or beyond, Peanut is a place to connect with other moms in the thick of it.

Download the app for free today!

Two Birth Center Births & PPROM Baby with Congenital Heart Defects

Valerie’s journey to motherhood started with a surprise pregnancy in college that unexpectedly catapulted her into the world of midwifery, natural birth, and was a huge time of transformation in her life. Mosely was born at 40w5d in a birth center, surrounded by his dad, grandpa, grandma, aunt and midwife.

birth center birth

Three and a half years later her second pregnancy and birth center birth had a few hiccups along the way in the form of a subchorionic hemorrhage. Despite the minor complication, she delivered Rocco at 40w2d after only 1.5hr of active labor in the same birth center suite and surrounded by the exact same people plus a big brother and doula.

PPROM congenital heart defect

Five and a half years later, nothing could have prepared Valerie for the devastating complications she had to face with her third pregnancy.  Complications started around 9 weeks with a subchorionic hemorrhage.  Shortly after the bleeding stopped, her baby boy was diagnosed with congenital heart defects via ultrasound and fetal echo.  Then, her water broke at 22 weeks.  They were given less a 1% chance of him surviving the pregnancy after the rupture.  She managed to miraculously stay pregnant after her PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) for 9 very tumultuous weeks (one of which included a hospital stay for a suspected placenta abruption).  At 31w3d Rex was born after his parents arrived at the hospital just in time for Valerie to push him out into the hands of his NICU and CICU teams.  

Rex spent over 3 months in the hospital and had 4 open heart surgeries before he was 8 months old. Valerie is still amazed by the miracles that have taken place in her body and is excited to share the story of her miraculous boy that beat all the odds.

Valerie Rowekamp Bio

Valerie is a 37 year old mom of Mosely (12), Rocco (9) and Rex (3).  She’s a Texan living in Denver, Colorado since 2013.  Valerie is extremely passionate about style, beauty, personal growth, spirituality and women’s empowerment. She co-hosts Facing 40 podcast which celebrates the evolution that happens to women as they “level-up”.  You can find her on instagram @charmedvalerie and @facing40podcast or her blog

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

OB/GYN has a Preemie by C-section with Inadequate Anesthesia

During Nicole’s first pregnancy, her baby was diagnosed with a rare intestinal malformation called duodenal atresia. She went into labor at 32 weeks and went on to have a c-section with inadequate anesthesia. Her baby had surgery 3 days after birth and spent a month in the NICU. This experience has helped Nicole better serve her patients as an OB/GYN.

32 week preemie baby

Nicole Rankins Bio

Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins is a board-certified, practicing OB/GYN and mom of 2 who empowers first time moms to feel supported and prepared for pregnancy and birth. Over the last 15 years she’s helped more than 1,000 babies come into this world and has demystified pregnancy and childbirth for thousands more women through her 5-star rated All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast, her free online birth plan class, and her signature online program – The Birth Preparation Course. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram @drnicolerankins.

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Twin Birth at 34 Weeks + NICU Stay

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Laura and her husband got pregnant the first month they tried, then were shocked to discover that it was twins! Her pregnancy was pretty easy aside from a subchorionic hematoma in the first trimester. Laura was able to continue with midwife-led care and was planning to give birth at a local hospital without a NICU as long as she reached 35 weeks gestation before giving birth. That went out the window when her water broke at 33 weeks. She was transferred to an academic medical center with a NICU, and spent a week in the hospital receiving antibiotics; at 34 weeks, she had her labor induced. The induction was long and difficult, and she ended up delivering both babies vaginally but with forceps. 

Lola and Phoebe spent 2 weeks in the NICU/Continuing Care Nursery until they could maintain their body temperature and take feedings from bottles. Laura had really wanted to breastfeed, although knew that with twins there were many possible challenges. She pumped exclusively for the first several weeks, then worked on getting the babies to latch. Lola transitioned to breastfeeding at 2.5 months, but Phoebe didn’t start breastfeeding until 5 months!  Laura is really glad that breastfeeding worked out, but also realizes that it was only possible because of the many supports she had, including a long parental leave.

Laura Attanasio Bio

Laura is a faculty member in public health whose research focuses on quality and equity in maternity care. She and her husband, Adam, have fraternal twin girls, a dog, and two cats. They live in Western Massachusetts.

FamilyAlbum Photo Sharing App

Today’s episode is sponsored by FamilyAlbum. FamilyAlbum is a family-focused photo sharing app with over 5 million users worldwide. FamilyAlbum helps you save, share, and remember the special moments in your baby’s life. You can even get started before baby is born and document your pregnancy. 

FamilyAlbum app offers unlimited free storage, is completely ad-free, and provides smart, automatic organization. But my absolute favorite thing is that you can invite friends and family to view your photos privately and securely.  You can even specify which family members see which photos. Your family will be notified when new photos are added and they can leave comments creating a fun conversation! You can also use suggested ideas for monthly photobooks, or create your own and then have them shipped straight to your door. The app keeps your memories safe, allowing you to recover them even if your phone is lost or damaged. To download this fun app head to the apple or google play app store and search for FamilyAlbum, or go to!