Claire shares her pregnancy and birth story which includes misdiagnoses during labor, a hospital transfer from a birth center, and an empowering and joyful postpartum experience. 

Claire and her partner became pregnant in May 2020, a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit California. She sought hospital care and experienced some anxiety during pregnancy which she worked with a therapist to move through and process. Claire transferred to a birth center late in her second trimester to prepare for a low-intervention birth.

Claire’s labor was complicated. At 41.2 weeks, she agreed to have her membranes swept. Beginning around 10am that day, she experienced regular contractions that grew in intensity and frequency. All signs pointed to active labor. By the afternoon, her duration and frequency of contractions were such that her midwives recommended she come to the birth center to be checked and hopefully admitted. When she was checked, she learned that she had not yet progressed enough to be admitted to the birth center, and was sent home. Around midnight, her contractions and labor had progressed again. Her husband, sister (doula), and midwife recommended she come back to the birth center to be admitted and deliver the baby. 

Breastfeeding jewelry

Claire got in the tub at the birth center and labored for another 6 hours, experiencing back labor and frequent, intense contractions which she worked through attempting spinning babies positions and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. Her sister and husband were her champions, both pressing on her back with their full force of pressure with every frequent contraction. 

To help her concentrate, Claire had requested that she not be told her dilation progress when she was checked. After over 20 hours of early and active labor she learned that was 3cm dilated- the same amount she had been when first checked that day. At the time the midwife team assessed her as experiencing prodromal labor and recommended she leave the birth center to rest at home. Claire decided to transfer to the hospital and elect for an epidural and therapeutic rest to support her progression. 

Claire was assessed at the hospital and learned that prodromal labor was not an accurate diagnosis, in fact, the baby was asynclitic (positioned with her head pressing into Claire’s hip socket rather than engaged on the cervix) and posterior (backward). She was wholly positioned on the right side of Claire’s uterus and because of her odd positioning, she was not able to progress labor. 

At the hospital, Claire received a growth ultrasound measuring the baby’s size and her amniotic fluid. She had not received a growth ultrasound in her third trimester at the birth center. The baby was diagnosed as having IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) and Claire and Kasey were advised that the baby would likely need to spend time in the NICU after delivery, and that she was at high risk. 

Claire received an epidural and Pitocin and after many hours more of labor and practicing spinning babies’ positions to try and flip the baby, Claire dilated to 10cm and was able to push. After nearly 3 hours of pushing Claire birthed a healthy, aware and strong baby! She was a healthy weight and was not in fact IUGR. Octavia did not need to be admitted to the NICU. She was able to do a golden hour of skin-to-skin contact and a breast crawl where she latched at her own direction for the first time. 

Claire had tremendous support during postpartum from her sister who is a board certified lactation consultant and postpartum nurse. Claire’s breastfeeding journey was empowering and successful for parent and baby, and although Octavia was on the smaller side when she was born, by her 2-day pediatric appointment she had gained back her full birth weight. Octavia has continued to make health gains since then. Claire worked to maintain breastfeeding even through the distracted 4-month-old phase, and her experience breastfeeding inspired her and her sister to start a business, Boop Bead Shop, where they design and handmake fidget necklaces as breastfeeding tools to engage babies during feeding.

Claire credits the mental health work she did during her pregnancy as setting her up for a healthy and empowering postpartum experience. She is an advocate for reproductive justice and for all people to have the autonomy and access to make the reproductive choices that suit their lives. 

Claire de Leon Bio

Claire de Leon (she/her pronouns) works as a communications strategist for health equity. She’s mom to Octavia and partner to Kasey. Claire studied public health education and in her career has worked to advance birth justice. She is the co-founder of Boop Bead Shop with her sister Rose who is an internationally board-certified lactation consultant. Together with her sister, Claire designs and hand makes fidget necklaces for chestfeeding that respect babies, parents, and the planet. Claire is a creative enthusiast who loves flower arranging, playing with natural dyes, and reading. She lives with her family in Long Beach, California. 
Connect with her on IG @deleonclaire.

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