Unmedicated Twin Hospital Birth

Niki and her husband, Brian found out they were expecting twins at an 8 week ultrasound in late April of 2019. This was a complete shock to them. The twins were spontaneous, di-di twins, meaning they had their own sacs and placentas- the least risky type of twin pregnancy. Niki and Brian chose to have blood work completed to find out the genders and they were again shocked and excited to find out they were both girls! Their then 3 year old son Dante, was not so excited about the babies in general but he really warmed up to the idea as he could see them growing in “mommy’s tummy.”

The pregnancy went very smoothly. Niki attributes much of this to the dietary, exercise and lifestyle modifications she made based on the book When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads. Niki also chose a high risk OBGYN as she wanted a practice where the doctors would allow the patient to attempt a vaginal birth even if one of the babies had a breech presentation. Her general OB said it would be an automatic c-section if either baby was breech. The high risk doctors agreed that as long as baby A (lowest baby) was head down, even if baby B was breech, they would allow a vaginal delivery. Niki wanted to have an unmedicated hospital birth, just as she had with Dante. Niki and Brian hired the same birth doula they had for their son, another postpartum doula and took classes on caring for and feeding twins. Niki’s goal was to tandem breastfeed the girls for at least 6 months. 

The twin’s due date was November 19th, 2019. Niki stopped working in September as she felt too uncomfortable performing a lot of the physical requirements of her job as a physical therapist and she was concerned about preterm labor. She was having a lot of daily contractions at this point of the pregnancy, but every ultrasound, cervix check and doctor’s visit went perfectly. As the weeks rolled by, the OB began discussing induction dates as they wouldn’t allow twin pregnancies to exceed 38 weeks. The induction was scheduled for 6am on November 7th when the twins were 38 weeks, 2 days gestation. 

The last 2 months of the pregnancy were challenging, to say the least! In September, the entire family came down with a cold but Niki was not getting better. By October she was having such terrible coughing spells that she fractured 2 ribs and ended up in the ER at 36 weeks. There was a minor pre-clampsia scare at the same time (one high blood pressure reading and one abnormal blood panel), but they were sent home from the hospital with antibiotics and a lidocane patch for the ribs. Slowly, Niki improved and was finally able to rest. 

She had been practicing hypnobirthing meditations throughout her pregnancy and utilized positive imagery and daily meditation to get through her rib pain and illness. She was afraid that this injury would lessen the likelihood of having the unmedicated birth she planned. 

As the induction date approached, Niki and Brian tried everything possible to self induce labor. She walked and hiked for miles, walked on uneven surfaces, danced, ate dates, etc. You name it, they tried! She was having a lot of contractions and had been dilated 3cm for over 2 weeks, but at her final OB appointment 2 days before the scheduled induction, it appeared these babies were not going to come on their own. This was such an irony to them because they spent the majority of the pregnancy worried about preterm labor and now they were worried about having to be induced! She asked the nurse to sweep the membranes in a final effort to bring on labor more naturally. When she did this, Niki lost the mucus plug. 

That night, they prepared to leave for the hospital early in the morning. They had a final crab leg dinner with their son and said goodnight to him one last time as an only child. They tried to sleep. Niki cried before bed because things just weren’t going as planned. 

At 3am, she woke up having heavy contractions and her water broke moments later. Brian was rushing her to leave the house and she wanted to make the bed, grab some snacks and make sure everything was ready. They left about 20 minutes after Niki’s water broke. They called the doula and she had an urgent tone to her voice about rushing to the hospital. Labor really picked up in the car! Niki used hypnobirthing meditations throughout and was amazed by how excited, exhilarated even, she felt. She was so happy to have gone into labor without being induced. She finally felt like the birth might actually go the way she wanted. Brian drove in a complete panic, asking Niki if he should run red lights, to which she yelled, NO!

When they arrived at the hospital, Niki and Brian knew she was very close to delivering a baby. Brian couldn’t figure out how to operate the phone to be buzzed up to the L+D floor and was panicking. Niki noticed another phone by the elevators, and that worked! As they exited the elevator on the L+D floor, the nurses were waiting and laughing saying “Niki, you’re over an hour early!” It was about 4am then and the induction was scheduled for 6am. The doctor on call, Dr. Roy Bergstrom, was the doctor Niki wanted. She knew he had a reputation for supporting unmedicated births and would likely let the doula in the room. Again, she felt excited and exhilarated by how well everything was going! The hypnobirthing meditations allowed her to feel a “bubble of peace” and drown out the sights/ sounds of the hospital and be in her own space with her babies. Between contractions, she would talk to the nurses about her birth preferences. She really wanted the L+D bed in the OR, where they make women deliver twins in the event that an emergency c-section is needed. The nurses pushed back on this one but said they would try. Dr. Bergstrom asked to call anesthesia to place a port- Niki agreed, though she knew she would not need the epidural. The nurses and Dr. Berg seemed a bit surprised when they checked her and she was 8cm and 100% effaced upon arrival. There was a big sense of urgency, but not panic as Niki was remaining very calm and relatively quiet. She was mainly standing by the bed and leaning over the bed when a nurse asked, would you like to “sit on the bed?” Niki asked to go on hands and knees. At that point, she was telling the nurses that she felt an urge to have a BM. They began calling for the doctor and without discussion, Niki pushed hard and out came baby A- Althea June Popper- dropping right into the mesh underwear and on the hospital bed! Brian described Dr. Bergstrom ran in the room and swept his hands under Althea just as she was dropping to the bed. They wheeled Niki, Althea and Dr. Berg all together into the OR. As they were going through the door, the nurse said in Niki’s ear, “That’s one way to get the bed in the OR.” They were laughing! The mood was so jovial. As they rushed into the OR, all Niki could see was the floor and tons of people’s feet shuffling next to the bed because she was still on hands and knees. 

Althea was tiny, but mighty and very healthy! 4 lbs, 15oz, 20 inches long. Brian held her while the nurses and doctor got Niki situated in the OR. Niki was asking to get back on hands and knees, but was told no as they were trying to get monitoring on baby B. They began signaling to Niki to push. She didn’t feel ready and she asked for more time. Barb, the doula arrived right then and said, “Niki- you can trust them. It’s time to push.” She wasn’t feeling the same urge to push and the position on her back was terribly uncomfortable- truly the first time in the birth that she felt real pain. She pushed for a few minutes and out came Avery Betty Popper- 12 minutes after her sister, clocking in at a whopping 7lbs, 10oz, 21 inches long. Everyone was absolutely shocked by the size discrepancy. At this point, the anesthesiologist finally came into the OR and joked “I got a call, brushed my teeth, and in that time, you had two babies!”

Avery seemed okay at first; big, crying, etc. But very quickly, Brian and Niki realized that she was struggling with breathing. Her oxygen levels were low. The team was ready to rush Avery to the nicu. Dr. Bergstrom took command of the OR and asked everyone to slow down and let Niki hold her babies. She held both of them to her breasts. Althea was rooting but Avery was struggling to breathe. Brian went to the OR with Avery and Niki cradled Althea in her arms and was wheeled to the mom and baby unit with Barb. Dr. Bergstrom reassured Niki, “This is a healthy baby- she’ll be back with you in a few hours.”

Brian and Niki didn’t see one another for several more hours. Niki focused on nursing Althea and pumping to try and drive up her milk supply. When she finally went to the nicu, she saw that Avery was on a CPAP and that she was not, in fact, going to be leaving the nicu anytime soon at all. This was such a devastating moment for Brian and Niki. Because it was flu season at the hospital, they were not allowed to bring Althea to the Nicu. Niki and Brian spent the next 4 days alternating between nicu with Avery and mom baby unit with Althea. It was incomprehensibly hard. After everything had gone so smoothly with the birth, Niki couldn’t understand how this happened. She attributed it to pushing too soon during labor. 

They were told initially that Avery had “Big Baby Respiratory Distress Syndrome.” That these babies “get better quickly 48 hours after delivery when surfactant kicks in.” 48 hours later, Avery’s condition had deteriorated significantly and the neonatologists began questioning this diagnosis. In the next 2 days, Avery developed a collapsed lung, a small bowel obstruction and worsening oxygen levels. They intubated her, started antibiotics and stopped all feedings. They suspected at this point that she aspirated fluid and blood at birth. Blood neutralizes surfactant so her surfactant production was not sufficient. The doctors were continuously coming to the mom and baby unit to tell Brian and Niki about a new complication. 

On day 4, Althea was discharged and Niki and Brian left the hospital with one baby- Niki’s greatest fear coming to life. It was a devastating moment. They continued sharing duties of being at home with Althea and Dante and rushing back to the hospital to be with Avery. Niki pumped enough milk to provide both babies with breast milk- Avery in a feeding tube and Althea at the breast or with a bottle. Brian and Niki’s moms took turns with the kids as well.

In total, Avery spent 11 days in the nicu. She was finally able to come home with oxygen on November 17th. Avery and Althea were so content being together at home, at last. Avery made a complete recovery and no longer has complications related to her difficult entry to this world. Althea grew very quickly despite being small for gestational age. Both girls are healthy and thriving 18 month olds now. Niki experienced some postpartum depression and anxiety that improved significantly after she started seeing a therapist. She was able to take over a year long maternity leave. In July of 2020 she started her own physical therapy practice called Popper PT where she focuses on prenatal and postpartum care. Brian continues to work for Hello Fresh and they are a thriving, happy family! 

Niki wanted to share her birth story because she loves hearing other people’s stories, she wanted to share about an unmedicated twin birth because those stories were hard for her to find and she sharing the story helps with her emotional healing from the trauma of the nicu. She hopes her story touches and helps other families as well. 

Niki Popper Bio

Niki and Brian Popper have been married for 10 years and partners for 18 years. They met in  college at the University of Denver. Niki is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and Brian is from Bethesda Maryland. They live in Denver with their three children, a 4-year-old son named Dante Alexander and 15-month-old twin girls, Avery Betty and Althea June. They also have a  beloved 8-year-old cocker-spaniel mix named Pepper

Niki is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and focuses on treating patients with pelvic health, pre natal and post-partum concerns. She also specializes in treating TMJ and headaches. She has  been practicing for 8 years and started her own practice, Popper PT in July of 2020. She sits for  her Women’s Health Clinical Specialist (WCS) board certification exam in March of 2022.  

unmedicated hospital birth

Brian is Chief Operations Officer for Green Chef, an online organic meal kit delivery company  that was purchased by Hello Fresh in 2018. The sale of green chef allowed Brian and Niki to  have the resources to move to a new home and for Niki to take a year and a half of maternity leave.  

They enjoy cooking, canoeing, hiking, skiing and snowboarding and camping. Niki is a certified  Pilates instructor and enjoys Pilates based exercise and indoor cycling. Connect with her on Facebook at

facebook.com/niki.popper.1 or facebook.com/Dr.NikiPopper and on Instagram @drnikipopper. Her website is www.popperpt.com

Resources

  • www.pelvicguru.com 
  • www.pelvicsanity.com
  • www.aptapelvichealth.org 
  • www.kellymom.com
  • Happiest baby on the block 
  • Happiest toddler on the block 
  • Whole brain child
  • The sleep easy solution
  • Expecting Better
  • Taking cara babies Feeding littles
  • Mr. Chazz
  • Dr. Becky

Aeroflow Breastpumps

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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.

VBAC with Twins & Baby Born with Hearing Loss

Shortly after getting married Kalen and her husband were lucky to become pregnant quickly with their son and had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy. She was induced at 41 weeks and 1 day but after 24 hours of labor and a cascade of interventions, her son Maverick was born via emergency c section. Determined to try for a VBAC, Kalen found a supportive provider 50 miles away. During her first ultrasound, she and her husband were shocked to find out they were expecting identical twin girls. She was induced a day shy of 37 weeks and after 30 hours of labor she was able to push out Baby A and had a breech extraction of Baby B. She talks about being readmitted to the hospital a few days after birth for the girls’ low temps and birth weights and triple feeding for 6 weeks until being able to exclusively nurse for 17 months. Kalen also talks about the processing of the news that her son was born with hearing loss and how he’s doing now. 

hearing loss baby

Kalen Andelin Bio

Kalen, 33 and her husband Ian live in Kenosha, Wisconsin with their 3 children: Maverick, 3.5 and their identical twin daughters Indy and Bowie, almost 2. They enjoy spending time in their newly renovated home and taking advantage of the four seasons the midwest has to offer.  In what little free time three toddlers during COVID have to offer, she enjoys listening to audiobooks for her book club and podcasts about pregnancy and birth while doing some therapeutic cleaning and organizing. Scrolling social media while enjoying a glass or two of wine is her favorite way to unwind, as well as couch surfing or playing some board games with her husband. There’s always a DIY project going on in their house and cute kid videos that can be found on her instagram, @kalenamy. 

Resources

Cord Blood Registry

We are so excited to introduce our new partnership with @CordBloodRegistry, also known as CBR. CBR has helped millions of parents bank their children’s newborn stem cells. Newborn stem cells have amazing potential for treatments in the future and cord blood stem cells have already been used for thirty years in stem cell transplants. It’s kind of like investing in your baby’s future health.

For a limited time, CBR is offering The Birth Hour listeners some pretty big discounts. Go to cordblood.com and use code: HOUR to get 60% off the Newborn Stem Cell Bundle which includes both cord blood and tissue banking. Visit their website to learn more about how newborn stem cell preservation could protect your whole family and why CBR is the #1 most recommended cord blood bank by families and OB/GYNs.

Giving Birth during COVID-19 with Preeclampsia, Cholestasis, & Terminal Diagnosis of One Twin

After naturally conceiving twins, Alina and her husband were told by doctors that one of their twins would pass away shortly after birth. This terminal prenatal diagnosis led to many difficult conversations and decisions. The pregnancy came to a close when at 31 weeks pregnant, Alina developed severe preeclampsia in a matter of days. This led to the early delivery of her twins, which ended up being more complicated than they could’ve imagined.

twin loss birth story

Alina Bazyler Bio

Alina and her husband have been married for eight years and have three children. You can find Alina on Facebook.

trisomy 13

Resources

  • Book: Waiting with Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby’s brief Life
  • Article: Delivering a Stillborn Baby Taught Me the Transience of Death
  • Bible verse that was helpful to Alina: 1 Peter 5:10: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Crane

This episode is sponsored by Crane Humidifiers. Crane’s colorful humidifiers are a nursery necessity to help relieve your baby’s tiny congested nose, which can make feeding and sleeping a struggle for both baby and mom. A happy baby is a healthy baby. Crane is generously offering $10 OFF and free shipping on all of their full-priced, 1 gallon, adorable animal shaped humidifiers and drop humidifiers with the code BIRTH20 at www.crane-usa.com. Check out their new top fill drop humidifier here or via Wal-Mart.

Disempowering Cesarean Followed by Twins VBAC

After a disempowering birth with her first son that nearly ended in tragedy, Erica vowed to have a different experience when she got pregnant again and planned to have an unmedicated VBAC with her twins. With the help of the Birth Hour, doulas, and a supportive practice after a switch of providers at 28 weeks, Erica successfully had the VBAC she worked so hard to get. As a black woman navigating the healthcare system, Erica is excited to share her story in the hopes that it may help some other mom or mommy-to-be.

Erica Beal Bio

Erica is an educational consultant located in Greenbelt, Maryland. She lives with her husband and three wonderful children, including an inquisitive (perhaps maniacally so) three-year-old and her 9-month-old twins that are starting to get into everything. Erica enjoys Rose, Netflix, reading, and cuddles on the couch with her hubby. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

erica beal pregnancy

Resources

DC Birth Doulas (my doula group)
GW Obstetrics
La Vie Breast Massagers

8 Sheep Organics

Today’s episode was brought to you by 8 Sheep Organics. Did you know, over 78% of pregnant moms have trouble sleeping at night? If you’re lying awake in the middle of the night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep, then you should check out the “Sleepy Lotion” from 8 Sheep. It’s a body lotion specially formulated to help pregnant moms sleep better. It also helps with common pregnancy pains like restless legs, leg cramps and back/ hip pain.

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Twin Birth at 34 Weeks + NICU Stay

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

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 family-album.com!

Twin Birth during Covid-19 in UK

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

After a very early miscarriage, Melanie was surprised to find out she was expecting twins shortly after. She spent her pregnancy focusing on preparing for postpartum, both nutritionally and emotionally, and she struggled with SPD pain (Pelvic pain) and trying to decide on the best way to birth her girls. Towards the very end of her pregnancy, COVID-19 began to spread, adding a new layer of anxiety and uncertainty to Melanie’s birth and postpartum experience. She elected for a C section, which went incredibly well, and is now one-week postpartum. 

cesarean birth covid 19

Melanie Hadida

Melanie is a Canadian who’s been living in the North of the UK for 8 years. She’s a nutritional consultant and focuses primarily on Ayurvedic cooking, women’s hormonal health, and more recently, pre and postpartum nutrition. She also owns her own small, specialty food business. Connect with her on her Website: www.melaniehadidanutrition.com or on Instagram: @melaniehadida and @spiecandgreen

weighing baby in food scale

Resources

Kindred Bravely

Today’s episode is brought to you by Kindred Bravely.  From adorable maternity wear to comfortable nursing bras, this mom-owned company has you covered.  See all of their comfy clothing at kindredbravely.com! I especially love their Simply Sublime nursing tank, their high waisted leggings (for pregnancy AND postpartum), the comfy Jane pajamas, and their high waisted underwear! Listen to this episode for a special coupon code!