Ep 142: MeLynn’s Birth Story – Prenatal Mental Health Treatment

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We often hear about postpartum depression but rarely is prenatal mental health a topic of discussion. MeLynn experienced anxiety and depression during pregnancy and there is a lot to learn from her story. She started by telling her partner how she was feeling, then saw a counselor, and eventually she went on medication. Did you know there are therapists who specialize in prenatal mental health?

Medication is not necessarily the first place to start, but once again, to have a healthy baby you have to have a healthy mom. There is definitely a stigma around psychiatric treatment during pregnancy. Not only was it hard for MeLynn to see medication as an option for herself, but she found herself blindsided by her delivery team’s averse attitude toward her being on pharmaceuticals. She was faced with a lot of stress and confusion in the delivery room as a result. It might be a good idea to check in advance to see what your hospital’s policy is for moms who are on psychiatric medications.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What prenatal anxiety and depression were like for MeLynn
  • How COVID had a hand in MeLynn finding virtual support
  • Why she reached out to a therapist and how she found the right one
  • What were some of the techniques she learned from her therapist
  • Which pain medication she opted for and how certain she was about her choice
  • How the delivery team reacted to her being medicated
  • How MeLynn has decided to continue her mental health treatment going forward

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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Ep 142: MeLynn’s Birth Story – Prenatal Mental Health Treatment

Nicole: This is a great birth story episode where MeLynn shares her experience with anxiety during pregnancy.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins a board certified OB GYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, competent, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 142. Thank you. Thank you for being here with me today. In today's episode of the podcast, we have MeLynn and she is originally from Harrogate, Tennessee, but recently moved to Johnson City, Tennessee. She's 26 years old. She works at a skilled nursing facility as a speech language pathologist. She's married and she and her husband have a baby boy. She reached out to come onto the podcast and share her experience with anxiety during pregnancy and the steps that she took to ensure a healthy pregnancy, both physically and mentally. And also talk about how her anxiety and her treatment for anxiety affected her labor and birth experience. And she really wanted to reach out and talk about this because we hear a lot about postpartum anxiety and depression as we should. However, there's not enough discussion about anxiety and depression affecting pregnancy.

Nicole: So she really wanted to shed some light on mental health during pregnancy. And I'm so glad she reached out to share her story. You're really going to learn a lot from it. Um, also she is a student from the Birth Preparation Course. So I always love when folks from the Birth preparation Course reach out to come on to the podcast and share their story too. So thank you for that. So you're going to learn about her experience with prenatal anxiety and how she took a holistic approach to care. Uh, and then for her labor and birth experience, MeLynn learned a bit about her clarity on what she wanted for pain medication. She was real clear on that and she'll share what happened with, um, her baby when her baby had meconium at birth also how she was thrown for a loop a bit postpartum in terms of the P the way people approached or brought up the fact that she was taking medication for anxiety during her pregnancy and the impact that it may have had on breastfeeding.

Nicole: So that kind of threw her for a loop. She's going to share that experience there as well. As always, this is a great informative episode, and you are going to learn a lot. Now real quick, if you haven't filled out our listener survey, I would so appreciate if you do that, you can fill it out at drnicolerankins.com/survey. I want to learn more about you, who is listening to this podcast. It's a super, super short survey. You can fill it out pretty quickly, and if you fill it out by today, the day that this episode is being released on November 30th, you will be entered to win one of four $50 Amazon gift cards. So that's drnicolerankins.com/survey. I would so, so appreciate you filling that out. All right. Let's get into the episode with MeLynn. Thanks so much MeLynn for agreeing to come onto the podcast. This is a really important topic, and I appreciate you reaching out to talk about it.

MeLynn: Thank you for having me on.

Nicole: Yeah. So why don't we start off by having you M I'm tongue tied already, and why don't we start, start off by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

MeLynn: Yes. So my name is MeLynn Berkley. Um, I'm 26 years old. I'm originally from Harrogate, Tennessee, but I moved to Johnson City, Tennessee, last year. I live with my husband, Ryan on our little baby boy Rhett who just turned four months old and I'm a speech language pathologist in a nursing home.

Nicole: All right. Love it. Love it. Love it. And is Johnson City, is that near the border of North Carolina? Is it near Boone, North Carolina? We were there like in August for vacation. Oh my God. It was so beautiful.

MeLynn: Yes, it is really beautiful in the mountains.

Nicole: Yes. Yeah. So I was in your neck of the woods, not too long ago. All right. So in order to understand, um, pregnancy, we have to understand a little bit about prenatal care and what your pregnancy is like now, actually the first thing, let me back up a little bit. Um, you reached out because you were interested or you wanted to talk about your experience with prenatal anxiety and depression. So why don't you tell us a bit about what that was like for you, and then we can talk about how it affected your prenatal care, but what was prenatal anxiety and depression like for you?

MeLynn: Right. So I've always been kind of an anxious person. I'll just preface it with that, but I never was diagnosed with anxiety or depression. I never, you know, seen a therapist. I had never, um, been on any medication or anything. I was able to cope just fine. It was just kind of, you know, a part of who I was. I knew I was a little bit more of an anxious person. And so last year, this time, last year in September, I found out that I was pregnant. And, um, at the time I was living in Harrogate, Tennessee with my mom and my dad and my sister, I had been out of grad school for a year and I was working at home. And my, um, my husband, my boyfriend at the time lived in Johnson City. It's where we met and went to school and everything.

MeLynn: And, um, so I found out I was pregnant and we had to like make lots of decisions. We'd been together for five years. And we were talking about getting married. Um, we had been, we had picked out rings. We were talking about getting married in 2021. But, um, so of course this pregnancy wasn't planned. Um, so we Johnson's and Harrogate are two hours apart. And we had just been kind of seeing each other on the weekends, but we decided we wanted to go ahead and get married since that was our plan. Anyway, we just go ahead and do it. And, um, we decided then we had to decide, okay, do we want to have a wedding? Or do we want to just get married? We decided we wanted to have a small wedding. Cause again, it's COVID, we can't do anything big. Um, but we ended up having a really small chapel wedding.

MeLynn: It was really nice. Um, and we got married on November 1st, so I found out I'm pregnant in September. We basically had a month to plan a wedding, thanks to my mom and you know, everybody else that kind of came together and made it happen. Um, I just knew like if we put it off, I would, we wouldn't have a wedding, at least not anytime. And you can see, you know, and, um, it was just really important to me to have those pictures and those memories. So that was you know a big stressor. And um, so then we have to decide where are we going to live? I had a good job with good benefits, but my husband was just starting a new job too going into business with one of his friends. And I mean, it was starting like the week of that we found out we were pregnant.

MeLynn: Oh, this happened all at once. Um, so this is in Johnson City. So, um, we thought, well, maybe we'll live halfway. And we actually looked at some places there, but it didn't work out. And I was like, okay, I can find a job up here then. Um, well we'll move, we'll do it. And thankfully I was able to find a job. And so I, I stopped working at my last job on a Friday. And I moved in with my husband in an apartment with the person he was going into business with, who was staying with him just for a short period of time. So I moved in with two guys, um, over the weekend and I started my new job on a Monday. And at this point I'm in my second trimester. So when I started my new job, the day that I walked in, the, my new boss was like, I'm so sorry.

MeLynn: Our whole facility is, has COVID, you know, just a huge outbreak. And the other speech therapist that was there, that was supposed to show me the ropes and everything actually was out with COVID. So I didn't have any options other than to see the COVID patients, you know, thankfully they gave me all of the, um, the PPE equipment that I needed. Um, but it was so scary because I was like, oh, I'm pregnant. You know, I got this and pain and you know, so all of this stuff is happening and thankfully we made it through that. I did not get COVID I'm so thankful. But, um, that was just, that was just a lot, yes. So much, so much. So I've moved, you know, started a new job, got engaged, got married and pregnant, all this stuff's happening. Um, so things finally start to settle down.

MeLynn: And I guess that is when, you know, during all of this, I didn't really have time to think about it. I was just go, go, go. I was just doing it, but it was kind of when things settled down that my anxiety started up and all the stress really hit me because, um, it started with like little things. Like I would be, I remember the first time I was at a grocery store and I, somewhere that I'd gone a hundred times and I was just going to get one more thing and I had my buggy was full and I was just like, I don't think I can go through the checkout. Like I was just, you know, there was just so much, and there was no reason for it. It was just this intense feeling of anxiety. And I started noticing it again with, um, driving and that's been the main thing that it's really affected me with and still does, but, um, I've always kind of been a nervous driver, but never thought too much of it.

MeLynn: You know, it never bothered me. Um, but I had to drive on the interstate to get to work. So I actually don't even work in Johnson City. I work in Kingsport, which is like 30 minutes away. There's the Trek cities. Um, so I had to a little bit of a commute to work. So my husband was the one that kind of noticed I was having to call him every morning on the way to work. And I was just getting these really intense feelings and just very, very worked up. And so he was the one that like sat down with me one day and was like, you can't live like this. Like, we can't live like this. You know, he didn't have to go in to work because he was having to get up and call me, which he obviously didn't care to. And he was really supportive.

MeLynn: Um, he is the one that suggested seeing, um, a counselor therapist. And so at this point I was starting to get kind of miserable by it. I was like, I have to drive to work every day. Like I'm willing to try it. So, um, we kind of got a referral from a friend and I started going and it was wonderful that, um, the counselor that I see, she specializes in, um, prenatal and maternal mental health. And I didn't even ask for that plan for that. I didn't know what I was looking for. You know, you basically set it up for me. I was kind of like, oh, we'll see how it goes. And we have like heard of another person who, um, we actually had signed up for, but she couldn't take us. And they were like, oh, here's this person that specializes in this. And it was so good to learn strategies. And you know, it's not just talking and venting about your feelings, it's actual things you can do to make your mental health better. Um, which I learned, I guess I had a little bit of a stigma towards it, but I definitely don't anymore and would recommend it to anyone.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So then how is that affecting your prenatal care and your pregnancy? Like had you, did you tell your physician at all that you were struggling?

MeLynn: Um, not up until this point. I think all of it kind of happened within just a few weeks that it got really bad, I guess, you know, kind of building up to it, but I didn't really notice it.

Nicole: And you were probably just see it. You weren't like you were in the early part, so it's not like you were seeing your physician like that frequently either.

MeLynn: When I decided, I think to tell my doctor, I'd been seeing my therapist for a few weeks and I was getting better, but I was still, I remember telling her, like I said, this is just take a long time. Like, cause I was still feeling pretty miserable and that's when she actually mentioned medication to me and she didn't try to push it or anything. And she definitely didn't make me feel guilty about it. She just was like, this is an option and it's safe. And a lot of women, you know, use this and have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. And your mental health is really important for your baby. And, you know, so I just kinda thought about it and I had an appointment that week and I was like, okay, well I'll mention it to my, um, to my provider. And so I saw a group of OBs and nurse midwives.

MeLynn: And um, so at that appointment that week, I think I saw a nurse midwife and I never saw her again after this, but I was so thankful to have her then because she said, you know, as soon as I mentioned it, she was like, oh, this is I'm so glad you saw me today because I just went to a conference on this and I'm really interested in. Yeah. So it was definitely a God thing to me, just that her timing with it. And so she helped me and she got me on some medication and I think she put me on a generic Zoloft and Buspirone combination, which I did not look into thoroughly before I was, you know, pretty much trusting these providers because I was just in a place where I was just surviving, you know? And, um, I didn't, I didn't even think medication was an option in pregnancy and I know that it's not the first option and it shouldn't be, but it is an option in it, you know, they can help you. And so I was just thankful. I definitely didn't have any, um, resistance, like from my doctor, you know, they were all so supportive.

Nicole: Well, that's really, really good. Really, really good. And I want to back up for a second and say, how hard was it? You said the first person wasn't available, but it didn't take you that long to find the second person is that right?

MeLynn: So it's w it was with the same group. Um, it was just somebody in that group that we had part of that was really good. So we were trying to get in with her and I guess she was full, but that whoever was setting up the appointment just said, um, she specializes in what you're going through. So meet her and see how it goes. But wonderful.

Nicole: And then I know a lot of people sometimes feel like they don't even know where to start. So like what, how did you know? You said you found a referral from a friend, maybe it helps that you work in, in healthcare as a, you know, a speech language pathologist.

MeLynn: I actually didn't. It was my, one of my husband's friends, um, told us about this group. And, um, what's been, so, I mean, this is COVID, but it's been great for me. Everything has been virtual video. Not, I've not met her in person once, but, um, so yeah, I think it was just, he had heard of that group from a friend and we just looked it up and it was local and, and convenient and ended up being great. So I'm thankful. I know a lot of people struggle to find a good counselor, but thankfully that wasn't really the case.

Nicole: Well, that's good. That's good. And you said you were seeing a group of midwives and you felt like they, you definitely had, um, their support. So how far along were you when you start? Oh, let me back up and say, what were some of the things you were using or techniques you were using from the therapist to help cope with things?

MeLynn: A lot of like learning how to give myself grace, I think there was a lot of judgment with the anxiety and like thoughts that I was having. And so that was one thing to say, Hey, like take a step back, look at all the things that you've been through and the things that you're, you're still doing it, you know, you're still doing all these things because you love your baby. Um, so just kind of that grace piece and then learning like different kind of like monologues or whatever of saying. Um, especially with the driving, I'm really anxious right now, but I'm going to drive anyway, I'm going to do this anyway. I'm going to go to work, like just simple things like that that were so hard for me. And it sounds silly to say it, but just when you're in that, and in those feelings, it's so hard, it can become paralyzing.

Nicole: Right, right, right. So just, there was something about even naming it that helped you to manage it. Is that fair to say,

MeLynn: And, and to like, kind of even learn how to be thankful for healthy levels of anxiety. So one of the other things that I would say would be like, oh, thanks anxiety, but we're okay right now, you know, like you don't have to go into overdrive. Like,

Nicole: I love that, actually. I love that. Indeed. Yes.

MeLynn: It wouldn't be so hard sometimes. Cause it's like, oh, I'm mad at the anxiety. I don't want to think it. But like we have feelings for a reason it's just, mine were so heightened because of all these stressors and because of hormones. So, yeah.

Nicole: Okay. So then you decided, and about how far along were you when you started medication and you said you started Zoloft and I can't remember the other two

MeLynn: Buspirone, or some form of it. Yeah.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. So how far along were you when you started medication and then what was that experience like for you?

MeLynn: Um, I think I was still on my second trimester, probably towards the end. Uh, maybe beginning of third, it was in March and, um, my baby's due in May. And that was what really helped me, I think, um, just kind of like get over that hump. Like I was on the way to feeling better, getting better, but I was still really struggling and that definitely did help me. And we also had this time, so, you know, we're living in this apartment, we're trying to find a house, housing market's crazy. Anyway, we thankfully did find a house and moved in. Uh, we moved in in March and then, um, so, you know, just adding to the crazy of everything, having to move our stuff, get the baby room set up, get our whole lives set up

Nicole: All of it. Yes. And do you feel like you ha well, first lemme ask, how long do you cause those medications always don't take effect right away. Sometimes it takes a little bit. Um, how long before you noticed that it, that things were better and then did you have any side effects from the medicines?

MeLynn: I would say about a week, um, which is typical. And I started me like a half dose of the Zoloft and then like worked my way up. So it like gets in your system, I guess. And, um, I did not notice any side effects, which again, I was pregnant and had a lot going on, but I definitely only felt better once, once it got going.

Nicole: Got it. Okay. Okay. Okay. Some people notice that they feel like they're, um, they may feel like their mood is flattened or anything like that. Did you experience any side effects or anything like that?

MeLynn: No, I didn't. And my mom is a pharmacist. And I remember her saying that, you know, kind of about different medications, like, oh, sometimes those things can mess with your personality. You're like, you know, but I think that I was at a point to where I was like, well, I don't really care. I don't want that to be my personality, but I think where my, my emotions were so heightened that, or whatever, it just kind of like leveled everything out and I was able to be, I was able to like actually see my personality again, and that was nice.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, good, good, good. So then you felt like you got on a regimen that was working for you. Is that fair to say? Yes. Okay. And then did it continue to work throughout your pregnancy and we'll talk about your labor also. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, good. Good. So then heading into your birth, because sometimes again, another big event can sorta tilt things a little bit. What were some things that you did to prepare for your birth? And I know that you were part of the Birth Preparation Course, so I'm super excited about that. I never know that when people message it and, and I was like, oh, I get so excited. So what did you do to prepare for your birth?

MeLynn: Well, the first thing was listen to this podcast. I think I've listened to like all of the episodes, you know, once I found it and I just thought it was very helpful, something I could do kind of passively learn. And then, um, I did the birth prep course and my husband did a lot of it with me and especially making the birth plans birth wishes. Um, that was probably the biggest thing for me. Um, especially just knowing what to even look for, what to even plan for, because I really knew nothing, you know, it's my first baby and not plan. So I wasn't thinking about it beforehand. So it was, it was really helpful and the course was great.

Nicole: Well, good. I'm glad you enjoyed it. So what were some things that you wanted for your birth?

MeLynn: The only thing that I knew for sure, I wanted going in besides a healthy baby and healthy mom was an epidural. I was like the first visit to the doctor, put me on the list. I don't know why. It just never, I just never wanted to try natural.

Nicole: There's nothing wrong with that. I'm laughing because, um, I could just, I, once I had somebody call from the car and was like, can you get my epidural ready? I'm thinkin like that could be you.

MeLynn: Yes. I wanted it like months before I was like, just have it ready for me. I learned a lot from the course to know that like, oh, I want to do the skin to skin. I want to do the breastfeeding right after, you know, within the first hour I wanted to do delayed cord clamping. Um, but I found out after talking with the hospital, that all of those other things were standard practice there. So I was really thankful for that.

Nicole: Okay, good. And it, thankfully it is starting to become more standard practice. The problem is that people don't necessarily know and they don't know what to ask. So yes. I'm glad that you found that out. So what was your labor and birth like?

MeLynn: Well, I went into labor on it was on a Sunday, like around 11. I just remember this because my husband, he works 12 to five and I told him, well, you're not going to work your whole shift. You can go in, but like have the guy ready. Cause my, my baby was due May 24th or May 21st. And that was a Friday. And we went to the hospital on Sunday and I actually had an induction scheduled for Tuesday, which I didn't want to be induced. That was another thing I wanted for my birth. But I was to the point where they called me and were like, Hey, do you want to schedule this? And I was like, yes, I was just so tired of being pregnant. But, um, so my labor just kind of started, like, it just really felt like strong cramps and, but they were so they weren't too intense yet.

MeLynn: I was able to like do laundry and, you know, finish stuff up around the house, move around fine. But I was, I started timing them cause I felt like they were getting consistent. And so they got closer and closer together. And all I knew from what I learned was like, I guess three to five minutes and now I can't even remember. I had it like, you know, memorize. Right, right, right. But, um, whatever it got to that like three minutes apart, I was like, I think I was supposed to go to the hospital and they were getting more intense, but it wasn't unbearable. You know, I was still fine and I called my husband. And so we, we tried to get a hold of the doctor, someone before we went, but it was the weekend and the number that they gave us to call, like no one was answering.

MeLynn: And I said, let's just go. So we went and we had to go in through the ER and all that. And they put me in triage and um, the nurse checked me and she hooked me up to them or, you know, whatever, all that stuff is called. And um, she said, I had been checked at the doctor a few times before and they always ask. Cause you know, I like think back to all the stuff that I learned. I just wanted to know, even though I know it doesn't really mean anything, but I wanted to know. And so I had been, been told I was three centimeters, 90% effaced at my last appointment. And this nurse was telling me, well, you're maybe three about like 60% effaced. I was like, what? You know, she was kind of saying like, I'd say you're more two.

MeLynn: And so I had to wait there for an hour and they wanted to see if I progressed any, if I had, they'd admit me if I didn't send me home. So I didn't progress any. And um, but I still was in a lot of pain. I was still having contractions really close together. And she said, well, the doctor's gonna send you home. And you know, because you're scheduled to come in Tuesday. And I was like, Tuesday, I don't think I'm going to make it until Tuesday. And she just said, well, some women can labor like this for days, which wasn't encouraging at all. Right. But I was like, okay, I guess, you know, I'll go home. So we left and um, we were not home, maybe like two hours and I tried to labor at home and kind of learn, cause I know, you know, epidurals don't always work.

MeLynn: And I was trying to like, you know, get my mindset. Okay. Well, if I have to do this naturally let's try all the stuff that I have learned, I like did bouncy ball. I did like shower and I was just miserable. And at that point it was like getting to where I couldn't, I couldn't stand it. And so my husband finally did like get ahold of the doctor. I don't know. At that point I was like, I don't care if you call I'm going regardless. Um, but she said that she would admit me, the doctor that was on call was actually someone that I had never seen before. Which you always like take that risk on your practice. But, um, so they did admit me, but when I got there, so like going back when I was there, the first time I filled out all this paperwork.

MeLynn: Okay. And she was like, yeah, you'll want to do this now while you're not in that much pain. Like, great. That sounds good. So when I got there the second time I, they acted, they put me in a room, but the nurse was like, yeah, you're still in triage. Like, you know, check, wait an hour and all this. And when I heard an hour, I started crying because I was in that much pain at that point that I was like, I just really want an epidural. I, you know, I'm in so much pain. And then she kinda got things moving, but she, I had to fill out all of that paperwork again. And this time I was in so much pain and I couldn't, every time I had a contraction, I had to like stop and, you know, it was just miserable and I felt bad for the lady who was having to stay in there while I was trying to fill it out. And I just said, you guys have to have this somewhere. Like literally just filled all this out. It was the same day. So I don't know what ever happened there. Um, but that was probably one of my only complaints about the whole situation. But I did end up getting my epidural, um, thankfully.

Nicole: And it worked, it worked.

MeLynn: Um, but, uh, I hadn't actually thought about, you know, my medication, you know, I was just taking it and it was working for me, but they hadn't mentioned it at doctor's appointments since, other than, Hey, is this still working for you? How are you doing? And I'd just say good and we'd move on. Um, but when I was in the hospital, it was, everybody was talking about it. I mean, it just seemed like that to me at that point. And then it was, I kind of had like guilt about it because the nurses were like, well, you're going to have to stay an extra night because of like the classification of drug and because to make sure the baby's not going through withdrawals and like to hear that just like broke my heart. I was like, oh no, like my baby, you know? And, um, they had told me to, um, while I was laboring and when actually when I was about to push, like skipping ahead a little bit that I know the nurse said, you know, he might not cry immediately. That can just be a side effect of the drug and you know, that might be true. But like no one had really talked to me about any of this stuff before. And I didn't, I hadn't looked into it that much. I mean, I I've, I felt bad about that too. I was like, oh no, you know? And so that's when it kind of became a big thing.

Nicole: Do you feel that, did that like heighten your anxiety or did it affect your labor and birth at all?

MeLynn: Um, well it did make me more anxious and more stressed in the moment because it just, it felt a little bit like I was being judged even though they seemed like they weren't, it just felt like that to me, just because of how much it was coming up and like, cause you know, none of them had, you know, the nurses and there were people that had been a part of my care and I knew it beforehand and were just saying, oh, well it could just be a side effect. They're kind of like blaming everything on it. I was like, well, I guess so, because I don't know.

Nicole: Um, I'm sure it probably felt like it came out of nowhere too.

MeLynn: And I don't think they had mentioned the whole extra stay in the hospital is a big deal. And you know, I hadn't heard of that before then until I got there. So it just kind of surprised me. Yeah.

Nicole: I don't think we, I'm going to have to check. I don't think we do that routinely in our hospital. So that's so that's interesting. Um, okay. So then your labor sounds like progressed along without any major issues or complications.

MeLynn: Yes. So I got back to the hospital the second time at like seven o'clock or so, and everything was progressing my water not broken, but my, my baby's heart rate started dropping. So they kept coming in to check and kept moving me around. And that was really making me nervous, you know? And, um, they, I remember she brought in like an older nurse, you know, and they were kind of, it was like three of them. There was a new nurse, my main nurse, this older experienced nurse, all trying to get me in a good position. So my baby's heart rate would, um, kind of stabilize and thankfully it did, but they were, they mentioned hands and knees at one point, oh no, you know, cause I have an epidural, they do not want to put me on my hands and knees if they don't have,

Nicole: Yeah. It's hard, it's harder. You can do it, but it's harder. Yeah.

MeLynn: But I didn't have to thankfully, and then I got to 10 centimeters and I saw my water still hadn't broken and I had never heard of this before, but I actually, my water didn't break until my first push and then it exploded.

Nicole: Yeah. Every now and again, that happens, doesn't happen very commonly, but every now and again, that happens and it's quite the spectacular display sometimes.

MeLynn: Yeah. And when it did break, um, there was meconium in the fluid.

Nicole: Okay. Was it alot, was it a little?

MeLynn: I think it was a lot, I don't know. I was kind of out of distracted, but um, I think that made them nervous too. And this is where I had a few questions for you. Or you can just kind of give your feedback. I, I'm not sure because they were trying, I think they were trying to keep me calm and, and stay calm themselves. But, um, just where he had the, where they have the meconium and then the heart rate. And so they were trying to get him out really fast. So I did a push them out. I think it was only 20 minutes. Um, nice. Yeah.

MeLynn: I ended up fitting oxygen on me and I remember asking like, is this for me or for the baby? They're like for the baby. And I was like, okay, like I gotta get him out. And it was just like, I just remember thinking like I have to get him out so that his heart rate, you know, so I don't have to have a C-section cause at that point, no one had mentioned it, but I was just scared that that was like next steps. Um, so then they took him and they put him on my chest for just a minute and I got to hold him, but then they immediately took him over and like started working on him. And they told me to before, like right when I was about to push or like at the end, you know, when it's about to come out, she was like, there's going to be a lot of people coming here, a whole team. I don't want you to be scared. This is normal. And looking back I'm like, is that normal? Maybe it is. I don't, I don't know.

Nicole: It totally is. Yeah. If there are any concerns that we have for baby, then have the baby team come and it can be five or six folks that come. So yeah, definitely normal and appropriate. If there are any concerns about, um, the baby needing any help when after, after baby's born.

MeLynn: So if he hadn't had that, um, the meconium or you think it was the heart rate,

Nicole: So the co the meconium sometimes we call sometimes we don't, it kinda depends. Um, but if the heart rate was concerning, then yes, we want to have the teams there it's much, much better to have them there and then send them away. Um, and instead of like calling in an emergency situation and having them, having them running. So we, you know, we, it, sometimes it's hard for us as the, the, the pro the delivering doctor or midwife to decide, like, do we call, do we not call? Um, but I think we never regret like erring on the side of caution and calling so totally normal.

MeLynn: Okay. Yeah. That's what I, you know, they kept telling me this is normal, but the more they said it, I was like, I don't think. They did have to, he couldn't say on my chest. And I guess, you know, sometimes they can do all that stuff with baby, you know, you holding baby, but where he had that, they wanted to make sure, I guess he didn't have any in his lungs. And so thankfully he was fine. He was perfect. He was pretty bruised because he came out really fast, but he didn't have anything in his lungs. And he was healthy perfect little baby.

Nicole: Nice. How long before they brought you back, brought him back over to you?

MeLynn: It was long enough for her. So I did tear and, um, she, long enough for her to stitch me up or deliver the placenta, stitched me up and then the doctor was gone. So I delivered that, um, 12:30 AM and the doctor on call, I think she had been asleep. I had never met this woman and she just kind of comes rolling in and she, she was great at her job, but it was just kind of funny to see like weekend night shift situation. And she came in, she delivered the baby, she stitched me up. She left, um, you know, she was very good. Very nice. But, um, yeah, so all of that, however long that would take to get me fixed up and then they brought him back to me. So not long.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. Well, good, good. And you said you tried to breastfeed and what happened with, with that?

MeLynn: That's when the medication came up again. So the lactation consultant came, um, he was doing fine. He was like having some trouble latching. We were just working on it. I, um, I know it can take time that it's hard, but, um, she, I remember lactation consultants saying too, well, you know, because of these medications, it can be harder and he can have a hard time latching. He could be more lethargic and sleepy and, you know, all of these things, which make a lot of sense. It just, again was like, I just felt like she kept bringing it up to, I was like, okay, I know that let's move past that. And let's do some other things. I can't help that at this point. So let's try to get him on.

Nicole: Right, right. Right. And then also still that like, no one told me, like, why does this keep why am I hearing this again? You know, like,

MeLynn: Yeah. It just, it was like, I went from a lot of support at the doctor's office to, okay, well, because of this now, you know, certain things which thankfully the extra stay because they had watched him and checked him. And whenever we were there, I think I ended up staying two nights. Um, but we didn't have to stay an extra night. They said he's good to go, you know, all of that.

Nicole: Good. Good. Good. So then what, and did you eventually get breastfeeding going or was it still a challenge?

MeLynn: I did. It was a challenge. Um, and I've mainly just pumped, so he's, you know, still getting breast milk. Got it. But, um, he actually had a tongue and lip tie, which as a speech therapist, I knew that just a little bit about that because I don't work with children or babies. I work with geriatrics.

Nicole: The complete opposite.

MeLynn: So I was like, I felt like some helpless, I should know more about this, but, um, we ended up, we got that fixed, um, like the week after he was born and, um, where, where I think like I would have done things differently is we stopped breastfeeding and we only pumped into a bottle. And I think he just got so like, he just got so used to the bottle that when we tried to breastfeed again he would just get so mad and frustrated, it wasn't happy for anyone. So yeah, our happy medium was bottle.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. So then what was the postpartum period like for you, especially in relation to, um, any anxiety you had?

MeLynn: Um, so postpartum, I think that I was so scared of that because that is all I had heard of. I never heard of, you know, anxiety and everything during pregnancy. I only heard of it after. And, um, so thankfully after, because I had taken all these steps beforehand, I, I really only experienced, like, I guess what you consider a baby blues, just some extra emotions, you extra crying here and there, but nothing like I had experienced before. And I was really able to enjoy my baby, which is what I was scared of. I was like, what if I can't take care of him because you know, I have postpartum and, and all this stuff, but thankfully, um, because I think, you know, I done all that, all this stuff beforehand, it really helped me afterwards.

Nicole: I love that. That is so good to hear. And then did you, did you continue taking your medication?

MeLynn: I did, yes. And then at my six week checkup, they were talking to me about it and I said, you know, I, I feel like it's gotten a little harder now that the baby's in here, so that's normal. And she like upped my dose of the, Buspirone whatever that's generic for, um, by just, I don't know, like a half whatever dose, but, um, but then that helped me, like just in the, just in the postpartum period and like getting back to work and all of the emotions that can come with that.

Nicole: Gotcha. And did you check in with your counselor before the six week postpartum period?

MeLynn: Yeah. I have a meeting with her weekly and she was so supportive even right up until I gave birth. You know, we had an appointment scheduled, like the day I gave birth and, you know, she was just like, if I don't hear from you, I know. So just so supportive all the way through. And like, I, um, I think I talked to her that next week and because it was virtual, I was able to just do it, you know, with my baby. And it was really nice to have that support and I had great support from my family and friends, but just knowing that, knowing that support was there too. It's good. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because I felt like six weeks not, I feel like it just six weeks is too long to not have any contact with anyone

MeLynn: It is. And if you're not sharing with anyone, I mean, I can imagine how scary and lonely that would be.

Nicole: I'm sure a lot of what she did was validate that what you were experiencing was normal.

MeLynn: Yeah. One of the most important things.

Nicole: So how do you feel about, everything?

MeLynn: Um, I feel like overall it was a really good experience and I didn't talk much about like the physical part of my pregnancy, because I actually had a very smooth pregnancy. It was all like, you know, mental health related that I felt I struggled. Um, so I was really blessed with healthy pregnancy, healthy baby. Um, and so like looking back on it, I can, I can, you know, be happy with like choices I made and the way things went.

Nicole: Good, good, good. And then if you had to ask me, wrap up, give one piece of advice that you would tell other women who may be struggling with anxiety during their pregnancy. What would you tell them?

MeLynn: I would definitely say tell someone, and if you just start with telling yourselves or, you know, someone close to you, just talk to someone about it and then you can go from there. Um, but it's just really important not to keep it to yourself because, um, you know, once you find out that there is help and you get that help, it's just life changing. It's great.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I guess, I don't think I asked, did they S they said there were no like long-term issues or concerns or anything that needed to be watched out for, in relation to you being on the medication during pregnancy, correct?

MeLynn: No, nothing that they had mentioned.

Nicole: Yeah. And that's, that's very true. There's nothing that, um, nothing that in specific specifically that we, that we have to do. All right. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come on and share your story. This is something that I know a lot of women deal with and they deal with it in silence. So I appreciate you being willing to talk about this really important topic.

MeLynn: Yeah. Thank you.

Nicole: All right. So wasn't that a great episode. I so appreciate her coming on and sharing her experience. And I always love again, when I have students from the Birth Preparation Course, come on as well. Now, after every episode, when I have a guest on, I do something called Nicole's Notes where I do my top three or four takeaways from the episodes, and here are my takeaways from my conversation with MeLynn. Number one, I want to reiterate that anxiety and depression can happen during pregnancy. And there are real strategies that you can take to help, or that you can implement to help you. You don't have to suffer. It can be a combination of therapy, um, or medications. There are different things that you can try, definitely seek out professional help if needed, because remember the most important piece of a healthy baby is a healthy mom, a healthy mom, both physically and emotionally.

Nicole: So if you are having trouble with anxiety and depression during your pregnancy, do not feel like you have to suffer because in the long run, it's actually not beneficial for your baby if you are not healthy, so seek out help if you need it. Now, I do want to say that in the vein of help, that, um, MeLynn's story emphasize that I think we do need to be a bit clearer about some of the potential side effects that can happen with medications that you use during pregnancy. And to be clear on balance, medications are very safe and effective during pregnancy. And if folks need them, they need them, but everyone should go into the conversation or the discussion about medications in particular, knowing all of the potential options. And there are some potential side effects with, with medications during pregnancy. So we definitely need to be clear about that as well.

Nicole: So do ask so that, you know, and that you're informed and that you can be prepared for it. Okay. Now the other two things relate to MeLynn's experience during her labor and birth. And one is that you don't know things unless you ask, and you don't know what to ask if you haven't educated yourself. So I'm speaking in particular about her experience of desire to have things like delayed cord clamping, and skin to skin contact, things that are should happen, that should happen routinely after birth. However, they don't always happen. And she knew about the importance of those and some other things because of taking the Birth Preparation Course. So she was able to, you know, know and ask and find out and get confirmation that those things routinely happen at her hospital, but that's not necessarily information that gets volunteered. And again, you're not going to know unless you ask.

Nicole: And you also don't know what to ask unless you've educated yourself. So that is one of the things that people talk a lot about that they really love about the Birth Preparation Course is that it gives them the language and questions and things that they need to know in order to have intelligent, informed discussions with the medical professionals and staff and things like that. And I want you to have that same thing too. So check out the Birth Preparation Course at drnicolerankins.com /enroll. And then the final thing I will mention is that she was still prepared for managing pain, even though she knew that she was going to get an epidural. And this is something that I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage. There will be a period of time where you're experiencing labor before you get an epidural, even if you get an epidural.

Nicole: And that's also something that you'll learn in the Birth Preparation Course, that some of those medication-free page pain management techniques, but even if you don't get them inside the course, then get them somewhere. Okay. You need to have some techniques for managing pain without medication. I do have a free guide that goes over a lot of those options that's drnicolerankins.com/pain. So you can head to that link and grab that guide, get that information there. Alright. So there you have it, be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now. And I was so appreciate you leaving an honest review in Apple Podcast in particular that helps the show to grow helps other women find the show. And if you haven't already filled out that listener survey, I would so appreciate that as well.

Nicole: That's drnicolerankins.com/survey, because I want to know more about you. All right. So that's it for this episode do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast, head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on how to Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.