Ep 23: Unmedicated Birth turned C-section with Brandi Mowles

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I always love birth story episodes. One of the reasons is because it gives me a perspective on birth that I don't normally get to experience. As an OB hospitalist I don’t do prenatal care anymore or follow up with women after delivery. Even when I did do prenatal and postpartum care, I didn't have the time to go in depth about women's experiences giving birth. These stories give me a chance to hear about all of that and I learn so much from it.

I loved hearing my guest’s birth story on this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Brandi Mowles has an incredible birth story. She gives some great wisdom about preparing for birth, and shares how she was able to remain strong through her labor and delivery which lasted for days. Things didn't go exactly as she wanted, but she found the best in it anyway. You’ll definitely gain a lot of insight from this one, just like I did.

If you’d like to connect with Brandi, you can find the link to reach her below.

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Speaker 1: It is a birth story episode about an unplanned cesarean birth.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy and Birth podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified Ob Gyn physician, integrative health coach and creator of The Birth Preparation Course, an online childbirth education class that will leave you feeling knowledgeable, prepared, competent, and empowered going into your birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and it's not a substitute for medical advice. See the full disclaimer at www.ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer.

Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to another episode of the podcast. Thanks for being here. Well, today we have a birth story episode and I like these episodes because they give me a glimpse into birth experiences in a way that I haven't had before. I don't see women back and get like a detailed account of what happened during their birth. So I find it really helpful because it gives me a deeper insight and perspective into women's birth experiences and I hope you also find them helpful for a similar reason, that you get to see lots of different ways that women can give birth. So today on the podcast I have Brandi Mowles. Brandi is a wife, mom and CEO of Brandi & Co. She helps online female entrepreneurs grow their tribe, grow their email list and increase sales through Facebook ads and sales funnels, and she is fueled by coffee, family dinners, Yoga pants, and morning snuggles. Love that.

: Well, Brandi had planned on a completely unmedicated birth, but things didn't go exactly as planned and she ended up with a cesarean birth. However, I think she was really able to make the best out of the circumstances. That's why I really want to share her story with you today. Now I struggle a bit with sharing stories where things didn't go as planned because overall I want to be very encouraging and positive on the podcast. But I also want to be realistic about what things can happen. And as I said, Brandi does a great job of making the best of her birth even though things didn't go exactly the way she planned. So I think you're going to learn a lot from this episode.

: Now, before we get into the episode, I do want to give a shoutout, and this is a very, very special special shout out because it's to every single person listening. It is because of you that last week the All About Pregnancy and Birth podcast crossed 10,000 downloads. Yes, 10,000 downloads. And I am so thankful and grateful for your support. I really, really appreciate it and I look forward to the next 10,000 and the next 10,000 after that. Now I asked on Instagram and my Instagram stories for suggestions about podcast topics and I've got some great suggestions for things to cover in future episodes and I'm probably going to be doing some tweaking to the format of the podcast in order to be able to cover more topics. So stay tuned for that and see how that unfolds. One of the ways that I support this podcast, really the primary way, is the through women enrolling in my online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course. So, you need childbirth education. That's the best way for you to get prepared for birth and for you to know your options and have the birth experience you want. So if you're looking for childbirth education and you're looking for a great option, definitely check out The Birth Preparation Course. It's all online, it's a fantastic course, women who go through it, love it. So it's at www.ncrcoaching.com/birth-course. And I will link that in the show notes, so for sure, check that out.

: Okay. So without further ado, let's get into the episode with Brandi.

: Nicole: Hey Brandi, thank you so much for agreeing to come onto the podcast and sharing your birth story.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Thank you for having me.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Yeah. So why don't we start off by having you tell us just a little bit about you and your family.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Sure. Of course, so I have my own life and my own business. And then my husband is a chef and...

: Nicole: Oh well that comes in handy.

: Brandi: Yeah, you would think so. We were living in Florida when I got pregnant and all of our family was in Virginia and now we're back in Virginia and we have a little 14 month old. And so just living the mom life.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Awesome. Awesome. So why don't we start off by having you tell us sort of what was your prenatal care like and we'll get to what type of birth you had and all that kind of stuff. But I think we have, in order to understand what the birth experience was like, we have to talk a little bit about your prenatal care. So did you have a physician or a midwife and how did you feel about the care you received?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, that's a great question. So as soon as I got pregnant, like I said, we were in Florida and so we went to a birthing center, but it was a certified birthing center. And I don't think there's a ton of those. I know that was the only one in the state of Florida. So I had midwives and it was great. I loved it.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Do you mind, I'm sorry, telling me like sorta what went into your thought process about deciding whether or not you wanted to go to a birth center or a midwife or a physician. Did you know that off the bat? Kind of what was your thinking behind that?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Got It. So I think it was just one of those things where I've never really loved hospitals. You know, like a lot of my family members went through breast cancer and things like that. So a hospital is just not where I wanted to have like a happy moment. And so when I was researching, and I'm someone that doesn't go to the doctor, like I'm just never, and so I was researching and I saw the birthing center and I was like, this looks great. Like you can weigh yourself, and you know, like it's, you test your own pee and it's just little things like that where it didn't feel so invasive and medical.

Speaker 3: Nicole: You felt more involved in your own care.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yes, very much so. And then though I had both. So then when I was 20 weeks pregnant, we ended up moving back to Virginia. And then that wasn't the case. Like we didn't have that here where I am. And so I went to the big hospital here but I still got to use a midwife, so I had her the entire time of my prenatal, but it was like a doctor's office. So everything was done very like doctor. But she was so amazing, made me feel really comfortable. And then we had the baby, Riley in the hospital. So I had like both.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay. Okay. So you started in Florida. That's a huge transition to move in the middle of your pregnancy. How stressful was that?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Well, the thing is, it was actually more stressful being in Florida, because what happened is when we were doing the nursery, we found out that we moved a piece of furniture and our apartment, the roof had been leaking. So we had mold growing in our nursery. So then of course my mom was like, this is a sign you're supposed to be at home. So that was bad, and it was going to be like this big ordeal. So we actually just opted to move home. My husband was very lucky and found a job very quickly and had to move home before I did. But I have a great support system. So the move wasn't that stressful. It was more of like, oh, but now where do I go to the doctor.

: Nicole: Got It. Yeah. Yeah, that, and that can definitely be stressful. It's hard too, when you have gone like, halfway through is not a bad point to try and find a new physician, but certainly, or care provider, but the longer you go, the more challenging it can be. So it's good that you got in and you got settled. So you saw your midwife all the way up until the end?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yes. So she was allowed to be my midwife through the whole thing and she just wasn't allowed to be at the hospital.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Interesting. So she only did prenatal care, but she didn't do deliveries.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Right. And they, I mean they suggest that I was supposed to rotate the doctors through because you never know who you're going to get. It's just who's on call at that time. And for me, I didn't really care who is there in that moment. I just really loved her for all the hard stuff. Like she knew me, she knew my, it wasn't like I was switching doctors each time and they were like looking at a chart. She knew me and I liked that about it.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. So it was for you that you had the same person and you, it was okay that you knew going into it, that she wasn't going to be there for your birth?

: Brandi: Yes. And how the hospital works here is like, there's three doctors offices and they're all connected. So even if I was rotating between the doctors at mine, it doesn't mean I would have even had one of those doctors at in delivery.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. So you had plenty of time to prepare mentally for all of that? Yeah. Okay. So what did you do to get ready for your birth? What did you do to prepare?

Speaker 4: Brandi: So I'm a very control freak and I like to be prepared. So everyone told me you don't need one of those birthing classes. And I was like, yes we do. We took a six week birthing class at our hospital. It was more focused on unmedicated births, but then of course it went into c-sections and things like that too. So you were fully informed and it was the best decision that we could have ever made. And so now people ask like, what's your biggest advice? I'm like, take a birthing class.

: Nicole: Gotcha. Okay. And do you feel like it was, well, who is it taught by? Like a childbirth educator?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, it was actually a by the hospital. It did cost money, but it wasn't expensive. And it was a midwife that actually had the class, like she was a midwife or she was certified midwife, but now she was an educator for the hospital on how to like incorporate other ways than just the standard like hospital birth.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. So you felt like, sometimes with hospital birth classes, it can feel like they're gearing you up really more to just be in the hospital. Did you feel that way or did you feel like it was a pretty comprehensive and like not really biased information?

Speaker 4: Brandi: No, and that's the one thing I was worried about going into it, but she pulled the class and ask how many people are planning on having an unmedicated birth? How many people are like, give me the epidural. And it was about half and half, but the class was, it laid out the facts. But we had like, we went through and used balls, like she taught us a ton of techniques that if anything, it was more biased toward having an unmedicated birth. But then she did an amazing job. That's like saying, if you have to have an epidural, it's okay. And so I thought it was very unbiased in my opinion. And I went in like, I don't even know what this is gonna be. But it was amazing. Like, and that's what got me through the mental stuff leading up to what all happened during my labor story.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Oh that's awesome. That is really awesome. And you said it was a six week course and at what point did you in your pregnancy, did you take the course?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Okay, so cause we had a end of December, beginning of January due date, we ended up happening, take it, I was not quite in the third trimester but I was almost, but because of holidays and everything, it's the only one that worked with mine. But I think they recommend taking it in your third. So I think I was in like the very last week when it started of my second trimester, but mostly in the third trimester.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay, Gotcha. So did you do anything else? Any books or anything or the class was, was I hear you laughing...

Speaker 4: Brandi: So yes, I read every book under the sun and then I did that for my pregnancy and now as a mom, after doing that I'm like never again, I'm not reading any books. But I think the class was really good. Not only was it a date night, I mean that was one of the greatest things. It was six weeks of us really getting to connect. My husband and I on a different level and it helped us both work through some fears that we had, but it was just, it was very, very comprehensive to the point where it gave us all the tools that you needed to get through an unmedicated birth. But then it gave us workbooks and things to get through if you had to go through like, or if you chose to have an epidural or csection or anything. So it was pretty comprehensive and even though I was reading books, I don't feel like I needed those when it came to the actual birth.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Now having a baby, I'm know nothing, not before I had my daughter, I had never babysat. I had never like did any kind of childcare. So I was kind of like I didn't know what to expect. So I did take a class on, it was just a one night, two hour class on just like basic baby care. So like how to change a diaper, how to swaddle. And that one I think was so ridiculous, but for me, I needed that to show me like, oh, you can do it. Like this is not hard. Yeah. So I don't like, that's not what I recommend to people who have been around children, but for me, like I needed that to calm my nerves.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. And you mentioned you had some fears kind of going into it. Do you remember what some of those fears were?

Speaker 4: Brandi: I think our big one is just knowing like, I don't know, I went in thinking a hospital is going to force you to have like, inducing and all this stuff. And that was part of my fears because I watch the Netflix documentaries read some books that I probably shouldn't have read. They were just like extremely biased. And so I think I had irrational fears going into a hospital birth. And then also I just, I mean it's scary. You don't know what's going to happen. You know, so I think that was just like scary. It's the unknown.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. And then you know, and I don't want to say that your fears were totally irrational. Unfortunately there are some hospitals still that have this sort of controlling aspect of what happens instead of a collaborative relationship. So your fears in that regard, w're not totally unwarranted, maybe some outlets do take it to an extreme. We're not like strapping women down and that kind of thing. But there is a little bit, we do have some work to do within the Ob system about really doing a better job of supporting women during birth and working collaboratively with them. So not totally out there what you were thinking. Okay. So let's get to what happened with your birth.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yes. So I, do you want me to go in and just tell my story?

Speaker 3: Nicole: Go for it, from when you went into labor or the, from the very beginning.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Okay. So I actually never got to go into labor on my own, which I was like excited. We had gains planned and everything and I was a week late and I was experiencing some really, really bad swelling. My blood pressure never got up or anything, but I was just, the swelling was really bad and my midwife was really concerned. My blood pressure had always been really low during the pregnancy and even not with pregnancy. So we did a Preeclampsia test. It came back negative, but she was really worried about, I mean, my blood pressure was creeping up, but it was still like way in normal. Most people would have loved to have that blood pressure. And then, I was just this, my ankles and make feet were so swollen. So she asked me, she said, okay, I know what your plan is, but here's where we're at. She said, the Preeclampsia tests come back negative, but I think you should go into the doctor. And for her to tell me that, I just, we sat down and we were like, yeah, we think this is the right move. And so we ended up going and to be induced on a Thursday night.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay. And you felt, and I guess you felt, I guess this, this speaks to the importance of the relationship with the provider. You knew that she wasn't going to recommend something just kind of all willy nilly that she was given some thought into it and she wasn't trying to force anything. She was really recommending it, not like out of her schedule but for your best interests.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Right. And that was the thing. I mean she wasn't even going to be there and, and I think that's why I felt so comfortable too, is cause she knew our goal. She was on, she wanted our goal, like the unmedicated birth and all that. And so for her to even like you could just see the look in her eye and I was like, okay, we need to do this. And so I trusted her and I trusted her in that. And actually when we got there...

Speaker 3: Nicole: And how far along were you?

: Brandi: I was a week late. 41 weeks. And so we got there and we got checked in, we're in the room and everything, and it's at night. And the doctor that was on call came in and said she didn't think we needed to be there. Yeah. And so they, how it works is they all have to like, like my midwife can't just say hey, she needs to be induced. She actually has to collaborate and share my charts and everything to other doctors before they can even suggest inducing me. Cause here they don't induce until I think like 42 weeks.

Speaker 3: Nicole: That is highly unusual for physicians to go that long without inducing someone's labor. It's great. But it's not usual.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah. The hospital here, I mean it's incredible. They're very pro like unmedicated and everything. They want to try to get you there, especially for first time moms. So they had to collaborate as a team and say, Hey, let's induce her. And so they all agreed at that one facility. But yes she needs to go in. And then I got there and that doctor was like, no, we don't think you need to be here yet. You're not dilated at all we think you should go home. And I was like, well I really trust my doctor. And they said, well it's up to you? But we don't think you should be here. And so at that moment, my husband and I are like looking at each other like, like what are we do we have one doctor that we trust telling us yes. One telling us like, no. So we just went with our gut and we said, you know, like, no, we're staying like, this is what we need to do. They started the cervidil. I think that's how you pronounce it. I could be totally. That's it. And then that next morning after I'd been in for 12 hours, they came and I was one centimeter dilated.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Yeah. And cervidil is like, it's um, we also call it a tape. It's a little medicine. It's, um, it kind of looks a little like a skinny tampon and you put it near the cervix. It's a prostaglandin and it just slowly opens and dilates the cervix over 12 hours. Um, we leave it in for up to 12 hours. So you said it came out and you were one centimeter?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yes. And after that they said, okay, we're going to start you on a very low the pitocin to get these contractions going. And that went on for a little bit and then they said, okay, we're gonna bump it up. And then it kept on getting pumped up. And so then for eight hours I was like, and I guess like the full on labor of Pitocin, like it was the, they said this is like is bad as the contractions are going to get. And so for eight hours I did the ball, the shower, I was up walking as much as possible. The shower was amazing and that was one thing that we learned in our class, like different ways to use the shower. So like relief. So it was great because my husband knew exactly what to do. They gave us our privacy, the nurses, they came in if we needed them. One of the nurses ended up coming in and showing us more techniques and this went on for eight to ten hours and said, okay, we can't take it up anymore. Like you just can't, so let's check you. And so they checked me and after that time I was at two centimeters.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay, so cervidil came out and then you were on pitocin for quite some time and during that time you felt like they didn't check you, they just kind of let you do your thing and it was your husband who was with you?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, so they were great because we told them like we still took a birth plan and gave them our birth plan. We were like, we want to experience this as much as possible. Like even though I'm getting induced, like we still want this to be as unmedicated as possible. So they were great about just like letting us do our thing and giving us what we needed when we needed it though.

Speaker 3: Nicole: That's awesome. Did you consider having a Doula at all?

Speaker 4: Brandi: We did, but at the time it was just not feasible. And also they're like really hard to come by. We live in a very small town, so we thought about it, but it was going to cost a lot of money. We reached out to insurance and they just didn't cover it.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay. So you did on the pitocin 10 hours got checked and you were, you said two to three centimeters. How did, how did you feel at,

Speaker 4: Brandi: Oh my gosh. I remember looking at my husband and saying I have to have an epidural because I just knew I was so exhausted. Like there was no way that I could go through this any longer with only that little. I think if I would have been, I even told him when we were checking, as long as I'm at a five, like we're good. But when it was a two, I think like everything inside of me just felt like, not failing. But yeah, at that moment it probably did feel like a failure. Like you put in all this work, then you're at a two? And so one of the things that they did talk about in the birthing class, which helped me, was sometimes women just need an epidural and they didn't like force it, but they said sometimes your body's just so tired that like it can't progress.

Speaker 4: Brandi: But I remember looking at my husband and was like, I'm just like exhausted. Like I've never felt so drained in my life. And so I got an epidural. He was like, are you sure? You told me that you were not allowed to have one? I was like, yes. Like I know my body and I know this is right. I got an epidural. It was actually amazing. I could still move my legs. Like when they came in and said, okay, we're going to lift your legs. I actually had a lot of control over my legs, but I couldn't like feel anything. So I know that's kind of different sometimes for other people that I've talked to. But for me it was, it was a great epidural and in an hour time I went from two centimeters to almost seven. And so at that moment I was like, okay, that I listened to my body. That's exactly like I was just too tired and that's what my body needed.

Speaker 3: Nicole: And that's, that's very true. Sometimes it happens that we'll first stop, let me say pitocin contractions are stronger than contractions without pitocin. I know not a lot of doctors believe that, but I believe that Pitocin contractions are stronger. So it can be harder to manage without an epidural. And there does come a point where sometimes it's just helps your body to kind of relax and go with the process of labor with the epidural. So it's great that you were able to confidently make that decision for yourself.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah. And it didn't come like, because I did, I like, I felt like I was giving up, but at the same time I knew there was no way I could've done that for another 10 hours.

: Nicole: Right. So you went from two to seven.

: Brandi: Yeah. And then things started looking positive. I wasn't in pain like we're progressing. All the doctors, like their faces just changed. Like they were happy to come see me.

Speaker 3: Nicole: What do you feel like their faces were like before?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Well, it was like probably like a murder scene. That's what they looked like when they came in before. I was like over, I just couldn't sit still. Like you're in so much pain, you're just like, I just have to do whatever to stop this. It doesn't really stop. And so, um, we, the whole atmosphere changed. Like my husband's watching football and it's just like totally different. And then they said, okay, we have to give you a cathether that are now cause you know, you gotta go. And so they put in the catheter and then about two hours later my water broke and then we're like progressing great. And then my daughter is on her umbilical cord and so they had to put some fluids in me just so she could not be on there cause her heart rate kept on dropping when I was in a certain position.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Like if I was setting up, it would drop. And they found she was on our umbilical cord. So they gave me some fluids and it was actually a lifesaving thing that it had the epidural because my blood pressure never went up. There was no signs of Preeclampsia, had nothing. And then one of the nurses was looking at my output, like the catheter bag. And she then looked at her chart. I remember, cause she looked concerned and she said, have you been drinking your water? And I said, yeah, I've drank like three of them in the last two hours or something. And she said, okay. And then she went and got the head nurse and my catheter bag was like empty completely. And they were pumping fluid into me. It was almost completely empty except for a little bit and it looked like tea. It was like the color of tea.

Speaker 4: Brandi: And they said there was blood in there and so they did a bunch of tests and it came back that I was like, my organs were in kind of organ failure. They said, and I was at nine and a half centimeters. Like we were like right there too. And they said that we can't wait any longer. We have, they gave me two hours, but they said this isn't good, like your in full on Preeclampsia. And the only reason they caught it was because of the catheter. Because no other signs of it at all. They did a bunch of tests and I guess whatever came back, my kidneys were shutting down in a way and they had a rush me for an emergency c section.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay. So yeah, that's one of the things that can happen with Preeclampsia is that it can affect your kidneys. So they said your kidneys were being affected. Anything else like your liver or...

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, they, I mean they said we have to take you now cause all organs are shutting down.

: Nicole: Okay. Well how did you feel at that moment?

: Brandi: Well I'm my husband, you can see like he's such a warrior. He like loves hard and he's like trying to stay calm but like you can tell. So he said, okay, I'm going to go tell her family they were in the waiting room and then me, I'm like, give me the book. Cause they gave us a book in the birthing class. And there was a whole section on c sections and I totally was like, we're not gonna need this. So I was like, give me the book. I'm reading chapters on what happens with this c section and all this stuff. So very different personalities. So I went in like learning mode so I can know every single piece of information and then he went until I worry mode.

: Nicole: Gotcha. Did you ever question the decision that they, you know, their suggestion for a c section?

Speaker 4: Brandi: I did break down and I was like, is this because I had, is this because I was into like, should I have went home? Like that was my thought is should I have listened to the other doctor? And I remember the head nurse telling me, no, it's a good thing you stayed because if this would have went long, like if you would've been home or something, we may not have caught this. I mean they made me feel very, like they were like, this is not your fault that this is happening. So I think that was my thing is I was, I was like, is this my part? Is this because I got the epidural? Is this, you know, like I went through that whole thing and they were like, no, this would have happened like regardless.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay. So you felt like they gave you time to process the csection?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, they told us and then they gave us like an hour or so because they have to get a room available and everything. But they pretty much told us like, here's your labs. Like we're really concerned.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Okay. So then here comes time for the c section. How did that whole process go?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Well, because they had to give me, so because of the Preeclampsia, they had to give me a whole bunch of medicine and so on.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Were you started on magnesium?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, yeah. Yes. And that's the worst stuff in the world. And so, and I'm thinking it's like the stuff that helps you. Like there's those magnesium drinks that everyone drinks and stuff. So I'm thinking it's like that.

: Nicole: No, it's a, it's a little different. Sorry, real quick for the listeners, magnesium helps prevent women with Preeclampsia from developing a seizure or stroke. So it's really important part of women that have severe Preeclampsia, like what Brandi had. So you got started on the magnesium and that makes you feel like crap.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah. And so I went into instant shakes. Like I just, my body felt so cold. And so the whole c section where you see some people on Facebook and they're like smiling afterwards, that was not my experience. I'm like, my body just was so cold, I couldn't stop shivering. They were trying to put heated towels like everywhere on me. I think it went pretty fast. Like, like I said, I was kind of out of it because of the magnesium, so, but my husband said it, it was a pretty fast process. And then part of my birth plan was I wanted to see the placenta. I like stuff like that. So they did let me see it. I remember that. So they were very, the only thing that they didn't do that was part of our birth plan that we gave them is my husband really wanted to cut the umbilical cord and I think everything is just moving so fast.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Yeah, it's very hard. It's hard for, we can leave it longer at a c section. So, dad or whoever can trim it, but it's like a sterile operating field right when baby comes out. So it's really challenging to have dad cut the cord right away. Right. Did you feel like everything else they were able to support you?

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, they did a great job of supporting us and then after she was born we went to uh, like a room. It wasn't like our room that we were in, but it was just kind of like a waiting room I guess til our room was ready where they let us do skin to skin and I remember kind of, but because of the magnesium, like where most people are like, oh, I saw my daughter. Like it was amazing. For me, I didn't have that experience because I was just like in and out of it. Like I remember bits and pieces, but I was just having such a hard time with the magnesium that it wasn't like that instant attachment that I guess people, like when they, I got to the room and stuff. Yes, we had time to bond. But in that moment it was just like my body was just struggling.

Speaker 3: Nicole: And just to back up, so you started the induction at one point, it went in when, how many hours later was it that you had the c section?

Speaker 4: Brandi: It was Saturday night at 10 30 she was born I believe. So it was a long, like two day process.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Oh, okay. All right. So and you come in, you said Friday?

: Brandi: Thursday, Thursday. Yeah.

: Nicole: Okay. Whoa. Okay. That was a long process. And I will say sometimes inductions can go long and it's great that you were at a facility that supported that. But I can imagine like after that long process and the magnesium, you were just exhausted.

: Brandi: Yes.

: Nicole: Yeah. Okay. So you are in the recovery room. Just, you know, you, you know you have your baby but you're having fully, quite connected yet it sounds like. So what else, what else kind of happened after the surgery?

Speaker 4: Brandi: They moved us to our room that we had and because of the magnesium, I did have to go back to the labor floor because I guess the nurses that they had or whatever, they had to keep me on that floor. Yep. So, and then that was 24, another 24 hours because I'd be on the, and that was just a rough time. They were bringing in like a lot of information and things like that. And once again, I felt like I had the flu. Like I was really sick. Just the shivers. And I mean it's, I would not wish that on anyone. It's like the worst. So, and then my daughter, she like if you laid her down, she would like scream. Like even the nurses couldn't get her to stop, so I'm trying to like breastfeed and you're trying to all this stuff.

Speaker 4: Brandi: And she just, she loved it when you were holding her, but the minute you put her down, she was just not happy. So just so I could get some sleep. Our hospitals, the kangaroo care, so they don't like to take the baby outside of your room, but you do have the option. And so for, we asked them like I just had to sleep. I mean this was a very long process. So they took her, but they would have to bring her back because she, like I said, like they could wrap her in the warm towels, but like as soon as you laid her down she would start crying and so we would get like 30 minutes of sleep here and there with her being in the nursery. But, so that happened and then we had issues with her weight, so we had to stay another night. So we were actually at the hospital for a total of six nights.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Wow. Okay. That is not at all what you were anticipating, I'm sure.

: Brandi: No, not at all, and then, um, so it was just like, it's a learning curve when they give you your baby and they're like, here you go. Yeah. What do I do now? Right.

: Nicole: Well, I'm glad you know, baby friendly hospitals and that's kind of a new initiative where we're supporting baby's being with their moms. There's certainly some, and that's a great thing because we used to take babies away and wisk them to the nursery and all this kind of stuff. Babies should be with their moms, but we need to kind of back it up a little bit and it sounds like the hospital where you're at was good about that and saying that, Whoa, wait a minute. This mom is not quite ready to have her baby 24/7 so we need to help her care for the baby in some instances. Does it, do you feel like you were supported in that regard?

Speaker 4: Brandi: I do, but then I feel like it wasn't the hospital. I think it was just, maybe it's my, there's mom guilt things that every time I would ask because it was just like too, it was at night, like when you know you're just learning, like they're not going to get much sleep but also with all the medication. But I just felt bad asking a nurse to take my child for a few hours. And I think it was just mom guilt and I wish now like I would've like been like, can you take her longer? We're about to go home in a few days and that's not how this will work. I'm so looking back, I wish I wouldn't have had so much guilt about that because it's new and I think that that's great that they provide that.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So what are, what are some other and all, let me say, how was the rest of your, you know, you finally make it home. How was your recovery from your c section?

Speaker 4: Brandi: It was difficult. Um, you know, it's hard. You can't even like get up quickly to get your baby, you know, you're trying to like, you got to get a pillow or one of, finally we got me one of the like csection bands to help with the pressure, but it was just rough. And then we were having to go to the doctor for two weeks every single day because of weight issues with Riley, which ended up being like, it wasn't an actual weight issue. The doctors don't think it was that because of all the fluid that they had to pump into me, her weight, she came out at like eight pounds, which everyone was really surprised about because when they were like feeling and stuff that was nowhere close to what they thought. But my doctor said or the pediatrician said, what they're seeing now is when moms have c-sections that took like had them as much fluid as I had. The babies are coming out kind of like holding onto some of that book.

: Nicole: They're artificially, the way it is artificially high. Right.

: Brandi: So she went from like eight pounds to seven, a little under seven pounds in 12 hours. And then it just kept on dropping a little bit and then it steadied out over the period of two weeks. So they just had to keep on going back to the doctor just to make sure that like she wasn't actually losing weight. We did struggle with breastfeeding though. So once we got home it was, we met with the lactation coach a lot. Was that provided through your insurance or is that something you had to pay out of pocket or through the hospital? So the hospital has a free lactation program but then so does my doctor that I go to, they actually one of the doctors on staff or I guess nurse practitioner, she's actually a licensed lactation coach.

: Nicole: So that was, and this was the your your Ob's office or your pediatrician's office?

: Brandi: My pediatrician.

: Nicole: Okay.

: Brandi: So, um, we worked with them a lot.

: Nicole: Okay. And do you feel like you were able to do that sort of settled?

: Brandi: No, we, I mean we tried everything, nipple shields, the whole Shebang. Like my supply was there, but and her latch was good. Like when they did like stick their finger in her mouth and all that and they watched me. Everything was working but she just wasn't eating enough. So they called her lazy fader and so we had to go, we tried like where you put the tube on your nipple and then she drinks out of that with the formula because we had to, with the weight, we had to make sure she was actually getting enough. So then after about two weeks of working with the lactation coach, I went completely to exclusive pumping and that helped me. Like the doctor didn't, the lactation coach didn't want me to do that, but for me I just needed to know like she was actually getting the food because we were struggling so much and so, and she was very fussy all the time. So I want to make sure she was getting enough food. So I went to exclusive pumping for four months and I did that and we only had to supplement like two ounces a day pretty much. But I did that for four months.

Speaker 3: Nicole: All right. So you had quite the experience looking back at everything. How do you feel about it and what are your big takeaways?

Speaker 4: Brandi: So, you know, it came out, I went in knowing that because of the birthing class, we did this exercise where you, they gave us these cards and you put out your perfect birth plan. Like if everything went exactly what, what you wanted, here's what it would look like. And then she said, okay, something happened. So now you have to take one of those things and you kind of took away cards as you went. And the only card that was left at the end of the exercise was a healthy baby. And that was a really good exercise for us to know like, okay, here's our plan. But also like the only thing that matters is that we all come out a healthy family. And so when we were leaving the hospital, I think we were frustrated just because we were at the hospital for six days.

Speaker 4: Brandi: And you know, then you're with, you have a baby and it was the coldest winter that we've had in Virginia. And so it's just like a lot and but when we got home it was, it was one of those things like, okay, but we have our daughter and that's all that really matters. And I was able to wrap my head around that and not struggle with okay. But I didn't have an unmedicated birth. I didn't have a vaginal birth. It was just like, it really doesn't matter. I have my daughter and she's healthy. And I think the first four months, just because of our situation with the pumping and everything, it was a lot. But now she's like the happiest baby in the world and we like, she's so fun and everything and looking back on it is just like all that doesn't even matter. Like we did the best we could.

Speaker 4: Brandi: And then looking back at it too is I think we now in a society where we're on social media a lot and we see a lot of what other people are doing and we see highlight reels and it's like, oh, and there's a lot of mom shaming and different aspects and there's a lot of opinions or what's the right birth? And all this stuff. And I think looking back on it now, it doesn't matter. Like if she has a c section, that's fine. Like that was her plan or that wasn't her plan or if she wants an epidural light now I just look at it as a whole and like you have a healthy baby and that's all that matters. What does it matter how they got here? You know? So I think that's my biggest takeaway is that maybe on social media we don't get, and I, I'm on social media, that's my job, is that we don't put out quick judgments because we don't know everyone's story and what they wanted. And honestly, it doesn't matter how they got here.

: Nicole: Got It. Gotcha. Well, do you ever feel like you were, you were upset or did you feel like anybody was kind of pressuring you to say that you didn't have a right to be upset because you had this healthy baby? Or did you just because I kind of feel, I totally get where you're saying like in the end, every mother just wants a healthy baby and for herself to be healthy. You know, but sometimes you're not exactly happy with the process. So even though you get to that point where you are ultimately okay, did you ever feel upset or was it for you like, um, I'm good because I have my baby and Riley is here and I'm okay.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Um, I think the biggest point I think I had my meltdown. Um, this wasn't what I wanted when they told me they were taking me for the emergency c section and that's when I broke down and I was like, is this my fault? Is there anything I could've done different? So I think I had that moment right then and getting the answers that no, this was not your fault. Like you could not have prevented this. That's what I needed to know to be okay with everything that happened and then everything after that. But I do have mom friends that they struggle with the things that happened during theirs, and I think I was just fortunate enough cause I just like broke down right then it was able to get the answers that I needed.

Speaker 3: Nicole: And, and it sounds like nobody was pressuring you to process it a certain way, like they were supporting you and helping you process it the way that worked best for you.

: Brandi: Yes.

: Nicole: That that's, that's really good and really key and something that I hope that we all can all can do because it can be a challenge even if you have, you know, the birth that you think you, there's a lot that goes into processing your birth experience. So I hope that we can all kind of support whichever, and not all, and not just medical professionals but as women that we can support each other and processing your birth the way that works best for you.

Speaker 4: Brandi: And I think, you know, I say that it doesn't, but this, this birth experience probably shaped my opinion on like after this, before we had Riley, I was like, maybe we'll have a second child. But then after her I was like, no way. We're not, like this is the last one. So it, it's shaped I guess what I want for the future in a way that I don't normally think about. But it definitely, like this birth experience definitely played a role and still plays a role in how I view like childbirth I guess. And so, and even though the doctor said this would probably never ever happen this way ever again, it's still like, but I would never want to go through that again type deal.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Gotcha. And that's perfectly understandable. So are there, besides, you know, you said the childbirth class was, just to kind of wrap up the childbirth class, you said was a great thing to do. Are there any other resources that you would recommend for women as they get ready for their birth?

Speaker 4: Brandi: I think the biggest thing is finding what you need because for, for me, I needed that baby care class, but that's probably not something that other women need. Or I know some people go and do like the introducing your dog to baby class. Like there's all these classes that you can take or books you can read and I don't think you need all of them, but I feel like you need to find what makes you comfortable. Like what are you most concerned about? And find a way to calm that. And so for me that was that baby care class and then for the birthing class was so good. And then protect yourself. I think that's the other thing. There's just so much material out there and a lot of it's like super bias one way or the other. Some of it's neutral, but I think just protect yourself. If you think reading one thing's really going to shape your opinion, then don't read that. So I think that would be my biggest takeaways.

Speaker 3: Nicole: I think that's a really important piece is that kind of knowing who you are and what you need and really catering your experience to that so that you can kind of support yourself.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yes. Yeah, because we can then ride, like we watched the movie and read the book, the happiest baby on the block and all that and all that didn't work for us. So I think it's also one of those things, your baby is your baby. Like if you don't get the baby that's in the book, you get the baby that you're supposed to have.

: Nicole: And it's so true.

: Brandi: Just because you read a book, but how would you like, this is what you should do. It doesn't mean it's going to work. So I think that was our biggest takeaway is our family now just, it's our family. This is our child. She has her own personality. She is not the child in these books. And so just, I think a lot of it just kicks in. Like everyone told me it would just kick in once you're a mom and I didn't believe them, but it really does like you just figure it out.

Speaker 3: Nicole: You do. You definitely do. You do. Just figure it out. I felt the same way. You know, I'm an Ob Gyn and I had this tiny human, it's like, what am I supposed to do with this, with this, with this? But you do figure it out and babies are very forgiving, thankfully. All right. So that was a really, really great story and information, that's inspiring that you've had, even though it was a very difficult situation for you that you've managed to turn it around and you know, obviously see the most positive aspects of it and now you have a happy, healthy 14 month old daughter. And it sounds like you said you're one and done for sure.

Speaker 4: Brandi: Yeah, I am. One and done, for sure.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Ok, so where can women find you if they want to connect with you in other ways?

Speaker 4: Brandi: The best way to connect with me is on Instagram and it's @brandiandcompany, so and that's the best way to connect with me. I love dms. I connect with my people that follow me. I'm always being sure, I will share though that we don't do a ton of, we don't share on social media a lot of our daughter, just occasionally that's just a personal choice that was made. But I love connecting with other moms. I work with a lot of moms and so I love...

: Nicole: What kind of work do you do?

: Brandi: I'm a Facebook ad strategist, so I helped put all those ads on Facebook, but I work with mostly women so.

: Nicole: Okay. All right, so we will link to all of that in the show notes so you can kinda check out Brandi's work in her feed. All right, so thank you so much for being here today. I really, really appreciate your time and you sharing your story.

: Brandi: Thank you so much for having me.

: Nicole: Take care. Bye.

: Brandi: Bye. Bye.

: Nicole: All right, so that is it for today's episode. I hope you really enjoyed it. Now after I have a guest on, I always go through Nicole's notes and those are my top three or four takeaways from the episode. So here's what I got from my discussion with the brandy. Number one, and this is a small thing that I pulled out that you may not have picked up on, but she talked about how the call at the hospital where she was giving birth was shared between three groups of physicians. And you may not have even met the person who was going to be there for your delivery. And I just want to bring that up because that needs to be something that you're aware of. It's increasingly common that you'll get the doctor who's on call or you may get a hospitalist doctor like me, so just be sure that you know what to expect in terms of who will be there for your delivery and you can plan accordingly. That's one of the reasons why questions during the prenatal period is so important. You don't want to have any surprises when you get to your birth.

: Nicole: Now, number two, her biggest piece of advice she said was to take a birthing class. She said that that's what got her through. It was also a time for her and her husband to connect, so I agree with Brandi. You definitely need to do childbirth education so you can be prepared. That's how you're most likely to be able to advocate for yourself and get the things that you want. Now there are different flavors to childbirth education of course, and there's in person classes and then I got to give another shout out to my own childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course, which is all online, but I do want you to do some type of childbirth education for sure.

: Nicole: All right. Number three, I wholly support. I'm medicated birth. I'm all for it, but know that it's okay if you choose to get an epidural. There's nothing wrong with that. If you change your mind, don't beat yourself up about it. Brandi knew her body and she felt like she needed the epidural and she's actually right. I have seen instances where women are just so exhausted that when they get an epidural, they can rest and that rest allows the cervix to continue opening and it's not that uncommon to quickly get dilated after the epidural and it's not because of the epidural, it's just because the body has had some time to rest and refocus on the work of labor.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Now keep in mind, it wasn't an easy decision for her. It wasn't like she, you know, just quickly said, oh, you know, this is what I'm going to do. It was a hard decision for her, but it was the right one for her. So don't feel bad that if you decide that you want an unmedicated birth and you change your mind and get an epidural, it's ok.

: Nicole: And then the last thing that I thought was really great about Brandi is that she did a great job of taking other people's advice into account, but ultimately she trusted herself. She was very confident in her choices. She was confident in her choice to stay and get induced. Even when the doctor there said she didn't need to, she was confident in her choice to get an epidura, confident in her choice to switch to pumping, even though that wasn't the recommendation necessarily of the lactation consultant.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Again, these decisions weren't easy for her, but she ultimately trusted herself to make the best decisions for herself, taking into account the information that she had. And I hope that you all do the same things for yourself. You listen to what other people have to say. You take their advice into account, but trust yourself, trust yourself, and trust your gut. Trust your instinct.

: Nicole: Okay, so that's it for today's episode of the podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you feel so inclined, I really appreciate you leaving an honest review on iTunes. I love to hear what you have to say about the show and I love to give shout outs on the show. It also helps other women find the shows, so I'd definitely appreciate that review in iTunes. Now next week on the podcast I have a fellow Ob Gyn on, her name is Ann Connard, and she is an Ob Gyn but she is also trained as an integrative medicine physician and she talks about how she marries those two together, both Ob Gyn and integrative medicine. She talks about supplements, she does a lot with supplements during pregnancy and she talks about things like environmental toxins. She has a book coming out, she has some products for postpartum moms. So it's really gonna be a great episode. Come on back next week. And until then I wish you a healthy and happy pregnancy and birth.

Speaker 2: Nicole: Today's episode is brought to you by Women's Wellness Coaching by Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to check out my free one hour mini course on how to make your birth plan, as well as my comprehensive online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course, with over eight hours of content and a private course community. The Birth Preparation Course will leave you feeling knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered going into your birth. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to learn more.