Ep 249: Erin’s Birth Story – A Beautiful and Joyful Hospital Birth!

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I think this might be the first time I’ve had a guest describe their birth as “beautiful,” “joyful,” and even “relaxing”! Erin wasn’t expecting to be somebody who loved her birth story but she absolutely does. Today, she’s here to share her perspective that a hospital birth can be beautiful.

I didn’t realize until we started talking, but Erin actually gave birth in the hospital where I work! I was not a part of her birth but I know her doctor, nurses, and midwife. It was so nice to hear from a patient perspective that the place I work provides a great experience and validates that hospital birth can be beautiful!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why she fainted in her wedding dress
  • How she managed high blood pressure caused by pregnancy
  • When she decided to go to the hospital (and why she went back home)
  • How long she labored at home
  • Which pain management option she wanted
  • How she stayed calm through the pain
  • How long she pushed
  • What parental support her job provided

Links Mentioned in the Episode


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Transcript

Dr. Nicole (00:00): Is it possible to have a happy pregnancy and birth experience with a hospital birth, even if you've never met the person who delivers your baby? Why? Yes. Yes, it is, and you are going to hear all about it in this birth story episode with Erin.

(00:21): Welcome to the All about pregnancy and birth podcast. If you're having a baby in the hospital, you are giving birth in a system that too often takes away power from women over what happens in their own bodies. I'm Dr. Nicole Callaway Rankins, a practicing board certified OBGYN, who's had the privilege of helping well over a thousand babies into this world. I've been a doctor for over 20 years, and I'm here to help you take back your power, advocate for yourself, and have the beautiful pregnancy and birth that you deserve. This podcast is for educational purposes only, and it's not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now, let's get to it. Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 249. Whether this is your first time listening or you've listened before, thank you for spending some time with me today.

(01:15): I'm so excited to share this birth story episode today from Erin. Erin had what she described as a long but beautiful 29 hour labor, even through uncertainty about when to go to the hospital and painful back labor. She describes it as an empowering experience. Her husband even got to catch their daughter. She felt that preparation and a great prenatal care throughout pregnancy allowed her to have a positive birth experience. Erin actually did not expect to be someone who loved her birth story, but she absolutely does, and she wanted to share her reassuring perspective because she felt like it could be helpful to other pregnant women so they can know that birth can be beautiful even through pain and in a hospital setting. Now, full disclosure, I didn't realize it until we started talking, but Erin actually gave birth in the hospital where I work. I was not a part of her birth experience, sadly, but I do know her doctor very well.

(02:21): I know her nurses. I know the midwife who was at her birth, and so it was just nice to hear from a patient perspective that the place where I work does provide a great beautiful birth experience. Now, I mentioned that Erin felt preparation was the key. One of the parts of that was childbirth education. She and her husband both actually went through my childbirth education class, the birth preparation course, and the birth preparation course is my online class Get you calm, confident and empowered to have a beautiful birth with a specific and laser focused intent on getting you ready for hospital. You can check out all the details of the birth preparation course@drnicolerankins.com / enroll, and if you use the code, Dr. Nicole, you will get an additional 10% off. All right, let's get into the conversation, the birth story episode with Erin. Thank you so much, Erin, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. We were talking before I started recording, and I can't believe it. I'm realizing not only are you in my city, but you gave birth at the hospital where I work, so this is going to be interesting.

Erin (03:35): I'm excited.

Dr. Nicole (03:37): Yeah. So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your family? Well,

Erin (03:41): So my name's Erin, obviously. Sorry, I get so used to doing my work intro. Yeah, no worries.

Dr. Nicole (03:48): So

Erin (03:49): I'm married to my wonderful husband, Chris. We've been married for two years, and we have a beautiful 20 month old daughter, Hartley. She's named after my grandfather, so Oh,

Dr. Nicole (04:01): I

Erin (04:01): Love that. We have, that's a sweet name. We have our cute little dog, har Mini, so that's my little family. Yeah. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (04:08): Awesome. Awesome. And if you want to share what you do for your work, you can.

Erin (04:10): Yeah, I'm a visual merchandising director for Target, so I make all the stores. I make sure they're all pretty.

Dr. Nicole (04:18): Alrighty. Then I'll have to tell my girls who love Target, of course, that you're the one who else make Target look pretty. Yes,

Erin (04:26): It's a cool job for

Dr. Nicole (04:27): Sure. Yeah, that is a cool job. Alrighty, so why don't, in order to understand the birth, we have to understand the pregnancy. So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about what your pregnancy was like and what your prenatal care was like?

Erin (04:38): So I'll start at the very, very beginning. So we were not trying to get pregnant, but it was the best surprise ever. It really kind a funny story. It's like I found out I was pregnant because I was in a fitting for my wedding dress and I fainted in my wedding dress during my fitting, which had never happened to me before. So I went to the doctor and that's when we found out, and we were super, super excited. It was only a few weeks from the wedding, so it was all good. It didn't change

Dr. Nicole (05:09): Anything,

Erin (05:10): But it was just such a cool thing to find out. We had had plans a month after the wedding. That was our goal. So it ended up being super serendipitous for us.

Dr. Nicole (05:19): Oh, okay. So y'all were going to start trying right away Anyway.

Erin (05:22): Yeah, we've been together for a long time before we got married. We were super excited, but that's how I found out. And so I think that kind of set the tone for me throughout the pregnancy. I felt like we were so lucky. So I felt really anxious and nervous the whole time. I almost felt we got too lucky, if that makes sense.

Dr. Nicole (05:39): Yeah, 1000% makes sense. So

Erin (05:41): I feel like I had heightened anxiety because of that throughout my pregnancy. But overall I'd say I had a really good pregnancy, nothing too, too crazy. The first few weeks I had a lot of nausea, but no morning sickness and then a taught the food aversion. So I think I lived on bread and ginger ail for a couple weeks for sure. Gotcha,

Dr. Nicole (06:03): Gotcha.

Erin (06:03): So the beginning was a little harder, but nothing crazy.

Dr. Nicole (06:08): Okay.

Erin (06:09): Yeah, and I'm trying to think what else.

Dr. Nicole (06:12): Yeah, did And you saw a doctor for your care?

Erin (06:14): I did, yeah. So I saw a doctor, I did a ton of research before and it kind of worked out because it turned out that my normal OB, GYN, is a really well thought of person to use for pregnancy. So she was absolutely wonderful. But my first doctor's appointment for my pregnancy, it was 10 weeks and I had high blood pressure at them. So I was on the low dose aspirin throughout my entire pregnancy.

Dr. Nicole (06:44): Okay, okay. Okay. Gotcha, gotcha. And it didn't have high blood pressure or anything before?

Erin (06:51): No, never before. And I don't know if it was a little bit of nervous. I was nervous, but better safe than sorry. Yeah,

Dr. Nicole (06:58): Yeah, yeah. Gotcha, gotcha. Now, were you able to see the same doctor for your visits throughout the pregnancy, or did you see different ones in the practice?

Erin (07:06): So I knew that she might not be the one to deliver my baby, but I was able to see her for every appointment except certain scheduling things.

Dr. Nicole (07:14): Alright, awesome. And did you ever have to go on any medicine for your high blood pressure or just the aspirin?

Erin (07:20): Just the aspirin, luckily, yeah, I managed it.

Dr. Nicole (07:22): Okay, awesome. So what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Erin (07:26): Well, so like I said, I was a little bit of an anxious person. I don't really like unknowns and pregnancy and birth is such an unknown, and I was really scared, full transparency. I was so terrified of the idea of giving birth. So I did crazy research. So the first, I drive a lot for work, so the first thing I did was find podcasts. So obviously I found your podcast and I binged it really, really fast. So I listened to a ton of podcasts when I drove, read blogs, books, all that good stuff.

Dr. Nicole (08:00): Okay. Are there any particular podcasts or blogs or books you remember?

Erin (08:04): Well, yours,

Dr. Nicole (08:05): Let's

Erin (08:05): See. I wrote it down so I don't forget. I knew I would maybe forget. Let's see. And I listened to the birth hour a lot. I mean, I tried a bunch of different ones, but I found that those two were the ones that I enjoyed the most and felt most comfortable

Dr. Nicole (08:21): With. Gotcha, gotcha. Yeah, and the birth hour has so many episodes. Yes.

Erin (08:26): Yeah. I could truly prep for everything. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (08:29): Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And then what did you do for, did you take any childbirth education classes or anything like

Erin (08:36): That? Yeah, so I did a lot of things. I took the hospitals class and honestly it was good. There was nothing wrong with it, but we just struggled with the scheduling thing, having to sit for a few hours. So we did your birth class and I loved it because I could listen to it in the car too, as opposed to sit down. Since I drive so much, my husband was actually engaged and interested in it. So that's what we did from a learning perspective. Awesome. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (09:04): Awesome. Awesome. And I swear I didn't know ahead of time. I don't handpick people or anything. It is part of some of the things that we collect, but I did not handpick her because she says she liked the course, but I'm glad you did it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. So what were some things that you wanted for your birth?

Erin (09:27): Well, I was so nervous about it and scared. I wanted to do anything that I could to make it easier on myself. So I wanted to feel super comfortable, and I had listened to all the podcasts in the class, and I had the string lights prepared and my focus photo and things like that. I wanted it to be calm. I didn't want anyone there, but my husband kind of didn't go

Dr. Nicole (09:55): That way. Did you think about a doula at all?

Erin (09:57): I actually had a postpartum doula.

Dr. Nicole (09:59): Oh, we'll talk about that. Yeah, we'll talk about that. So you said it kind of didn't go that way. We'll get into that, but is there anything else you wanted? A lot of people these days, and this has gotten to be more routine, thankfully, but delayed cord clamping and skin to skin and things like that.

Erin (10:14): So I wanted delayed cord clamping. I wanted skin to skin. I wanted the golden hour. And the cool thing was that I found out that that was standard procedure delivered, so I didn't even have to really put that in my birth plan. Yep,

Dr. Nicole (10:27): Yep. Awesome, awesome. And then did you talk about these things with your doctor during your visits?

Erin (10:32): I did, yes. Anything I was nervous about hearing about things like the episiotomies and all kinds of crazy stuff. So I talked about that with her, and she was so good at managing my anxiety throughout the entire process, so she made me feel really good. We went through my birth plan, but everything I wanted, like I said, she's like, well, we'll do that no matter what. We'll do that no matter what. We'll do that no matter what. Yes, she made me feel really good about,

Dr. Nicole (10:56): Yes, that helps to set the tone going into things. It makes you feel so much more comfortable.

Erin (11:02): Exactly. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (11:04): Then you said you were scared. Is there anything in particular that you were really scared about? I

Erin (11:09): Was worried about the pain. Honestly, no one can really describe a contraction. And then you hear, I felt like the whole pregnancy, I would hear people either push for, it's going to be this totally medical process, or it's going to be this totally, I don't know, unmedicated, natural, beautiful process. And I was like, I just don't know if I buy that. And so I was really nervous about what would it actually be. It turned out to be totally opposite of what I thought it would be. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (11:38): Okay. All right. Well, let's get into it. What happened with your labor and birth? How did everything go? Oh my

Erin (11:43): Goodness. So my daughter came exactly one week early. So it's so funny. I was on these calls at work too, and I was supposed to be doing all these things the next day and after these calls and I went into labor and I couldn't do any of those things.

Dr. Nicole (11:59): Isn't that, of course, that's how it happens. But

Erin (12:02): It's so funny. During the early stages of labor, I'm texting all these people at work. I'm so sorry, I can't get you your size. My boss was like, stop.

Dr. Nicole (12:11): Stop. Yes, stop. You're having a baby. It's going to be okay. She's really good. Yes.

Erin (12:17): But I went into labor almost exactly at midnight. So went to bed and I started feeling like I had a Charlie horse kind of in my abdomen, is how I describe it. So I went into labor then, and I didn't wake my husband up. It wasn't that bad. I just knew something was happening. So I went downstairs, I watched the office, and once it started feeling a little more intense, I woke my husband up and we started timing the contractions.

Dr. Nicole (12:44): Okay, okay. And then how long before you went to the hospital?

Erin (12:51): Here's the thing, I trusted the app, which I would advise, maybe it didn't feel intense. I was like, this is just a Charlie horse, but the app is saying I'm at 5 1 1. So I called the on-call doctor, probably around 4:00 AM and I said, well, here's what's happening. What should I do? They said, well, go ahead and go in. So I went in and I probably went a little too early,

Dr. Nicole (13:18): I'd say, yeah. Gotcha, gotcha. So what happened when you went in?

Erin (13:24): So they took me into triage. Everyone was so kind, and I am really thankful my provider. She didn't require me to have cervical checks. She pretty much asked me if I wanted a cervical check during my appointments, and I had never had one until I went into labor. So I had my first cervical check there, and I was only one centimeter dilated, so I was like, oh my gosh. But they still hooked me up to the monitor to take a look at my contractions, and they said, something's definitely happening, but you're not far along. And so they kind of had me chug a ton of water. So I drank a lot of water, and they had me go walk around for an hour. So I went and walked around the hospital doing the curb walking and everything I could. And then I went back up to triage after an hour, and nothing had really changed. So I was disappointing.

Dr. Nicole (14:18): Yeah, I know. It's disappointing. If we had a dollar for every time that happened, we'd be rich. So then did they discuss, or what were the options that they discussed? Or were they like, maybe you should probably go home?

Erin (14:32): Yeah, they were really nice about it. They gave me two options. So they said, you can stay, but realistically you, you'll probably kind of bored all day and you might be more comfortable at home. And I was so embarrassed. I was like, I listen to all these podcasts in my classes. They say, don't go early. And I went early. So I think that kind of set the tone for the rest of my labor, which you'll find out about later, but

Dr. Nicole (14:56): Okay. Yeah, don't feel embarrassed. I'm telling you, it happens so often it happens to those of us who are even OB GYNs because sometimes you just don't know until you don't and you

Erin (15:08): Never experienced

Dr. Nicole (15:09): It. Exactly. There's something happening, but then it's like, okay, what is the time? So don't feel bad at all. So then when you went home, how did things go when you went

Erin (15:19): Home? So it definitely started to pick up. It was pretty intense. I was able to eat a little bit, but realistically, you hear all these things that say, try and eat while you're at home before you go back to the hospital. I was so focused, I didn't want to eat, so I ate a little bit, but really I napped, but it was just too intense and consistent. And then I labored at home for a long time, and I pretty much spent the whole time either in the bathtub or in the shower,

Dr. Nicole (15:46): Just trying to get through it. Okay. How long were you at home?

Erin (15:49): Oh my goodness. I think we got home. We went to the hospital at four, got home around eight, and then I stayed at home until probably 10:00 PM which was probably a mistake.

Dr. Nicole (15:59): Well, I mean, not necessarily. Why do you think it was a mistake?

Erin (16:06): I was in back labor and it was hurting really, really bad, but I was too scared to, I wish I had listened to my body a little bit more in that moment because I wasn't even ready to go at 10. I'm in the shower on all fours, and my husband was like, I'm calling the doctor. This is insane.

Dr. Nicole (16:25): Okay. Yeah. Okay. Gotcha, gotcha. So then you went back to the hospital, and how dilated were you when you got to the hospital?

Erin (16:31): I was six centimeters dilated by the time

Dr. Nicole (16:34): I got there. So you were in reporting labor at that point? Yes. Yeah, for sure.

Erin (16:39): I could barely make it from the parking lot to the labor and delivery. Were

Dr. Nicole (16:44): You still worried that maybe this isn't it, or just

Erin (16:48): I think I was, yes, my husband knew, and I had a TENS machine, and I had it on my back, and I had it all the way up, and I still think my brain just was in denial or something. Okay,

Dr. Nicole (17:02): Okay. Okay. But in hindsight, can you see the difference between those early contractions and then when things really started ramping up? Oh, yeah. Oh yeah.

Erin (17:14): I think if I had gone two hours sooner, it might've been a little different probably.

Dr. Nicole (17:18): Gotcha.

Erin (17:19): I can remember exactly when they started to feel more intense. It's very

Dr. Nicole (17:24): Vivid and totally grabbing all of your attention. All I can do is just work on getting through this contraction.

Erin (17:30): Yep, definitely.

Dr. Nicole (17:31): Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Okay. So you got to the hospital and then you were six centimeters. How'd you feel when they said you were six centimeters?

Erin (17:39): I mean, I was very sick at that. I mean, maybe not sick. I was throwing up, I was shaking. It didn't even compute with me until after full transparency. So I was just like, I need someone to help me at this point. So I think I didn't even

Dr. Nicole (17:58): Got it. Got it. But hopefully you at least knew, okay, this is it, and I'm actually staying at the hospital.

Erin (18:05): Oh, yeah. I mean, by the time, because we call ahead and tell them that we're coming, they were waiting for me at the door, and they walked me directly. I didn't go to triage. Basically, two nurses helped me down the hall to get to my room. Yeah, okay.

Dr. Nicole (18:21): So they knew. Right. All right. So then what did you decide to do for pain management?

Erin (18:29): I always knew I wanted an epidural. I was a little nervous about it, but I was so afraid of the pain, which in hindsight, I don't think I wouldn't be as afraid. Next time I know what to expect for sure. I wouldn't wait so long to manage the pain, but I did get an epidural, and my anesthesiologist is like my hero. I remember his name. I remember everything about him. It was amazing.

Dr. Nicole (19:02): Now I'm curious, who was the anesthesiologist?

Erin (19:05): Dr. Estes?

Dr. Nicole (19:06): Yes. He is retired, but he is Oh, no. Yeah. Yeah. He retired, but he is a magician with epidurals.

Erin (19:16): She was also so kind, because I was throwing up and I was shaking, and all I'd heard was like, you have to stay still. You have to stay still. And I think in my brain, I kept going, Dr. Estes, I can't stay still. I can't stay still. He said, it's okay. I got you. He was being so nice to me when I was panicking. I know it's his job, but I will never forget that kindness.

Dr. Nicole (19:39): Yeah. Well, not every anesthesiologist is kind like that, so I'm glad you had a good experience. So did the epidural work well? Oh, yeah.

Erin (19:48): It worked really well. I will say there was one spot in my lower right hip. I'm sorry if you hear my dog, I have the door closed, but she's

Dr. Nicole (19:57): No worries. Okay.

Erin (19:58): So I had a spot in my lower right hip that I could still feel the pain, and that was not great. I was in back labor, but they moved me around and within 15, 20 minutes, that was covered as well too. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (20:10): Okay. Good. Good, good, good. So then what happened from when you got the epidural after that? So

Erin (20:17): The epidural was around 11:00 PM 12:00 AM I think, somewhere in between then. And then it was kind of like, this was when I started to really have a, I feel positive about the experience beforehand, even with some of the strange things that happened. I'm proud of myself for that. But then this was the time when everything started to feel really, really good. I found it to be a calming experience. So that's when they turned down the lights for me. They made it really calm in there. I had the most amazing nurses too. So they made that experience just absolutely wonderful for me. Awesome. So I ended up putting on an audio book and just relaxing, and it was great. I felt like I could really start to visualize, I'm about to meet my daughter. Beautiful. I was in a beautiful room. I felt like I was being well taken care of. So then it kind of changed the experience for me.

Dr. Nicole (21:16): Good, good. I'm glad. I'm glad. So then when did you get to completely dilated? So what happened during that time?

Erin (21:27): Well, so throughout the time from 11 until my daughter was born at seven fifty eight, she was in my right hip. So the nurses would come in every hour. They used the peanut ball, and they changed my position. So they got her in the right position. And then what else? So they did cervical checks. Every few hours they'd come in and ask. And so around 6:00 AM they came in and there was a nurse in training. And then my primary nurse and the nurse in training asked if I would be okay if she did a cervical check. And I'm like, of course, why not? So she does the check and she says, you're still at six centimeters. Nothing has changed. And I panic. I'm like, oh my goodness. How is that possible? I feel more pressure. And then the nurse who was training her, she's like, what? Are you okay if I check? I said, God, yes, please. So she does the check, and she's like, no, you're 10 centimeters dilated. You're ready to go. I'm sure it'll be very soon. And she actually accidentally birthed my water. So

Dr. Nicole (22:36): That happens sometimes. Yep.

Erin (22:38): Yeah. She was so apologetic. I was like, Nope. Thank goodness. I'm on hour 30 now, so.

Dr. Nicole (22:45): Right, right, right. Okay. So then you felt good. You were completely dilated, and then what happened after that?

Erin (22:51): So they, me didn't do any Pitocin or anything like that the whole time. They let me, my body do what it needed to do. And so around probably an hour later, I said, I'm feeling a lot of pressure. And I heard it would feel like you needed to poop. I don't know if that's what I'd describe it as, but I just felt like intense pressure. And so they checked and they're like, yep, it's time to push. So she had me do a couple test pushes, and I had listened to your episode on yoga, prenatal yoga. And so I had focused a lot on yoga. I'm like, move this baby down. So I had done a lot of yoga, and so I started doing my yoga breathing, and they were like, you're good to go with the pushing. You've got it. And so I was trying to push down.

Dr. Nicole (23:39): Got it. Got it. So how long did you push?

Erin (23:41): So I pushed for about 45 minutes. Oh,

Dr. Nicole (23:44): That's not long at all. Yeah,

Erin (23:45): I didn't have to push long. And it was this weirdly joyful experience for me. And I don't know that many women would describe it as that. I love to tell this story if you

Dr. Nicole (23:55): Can't tell. Yeah. What was joyful about it?

Erin (23:58): So it was right around shift change for the nurses. And it wasn't my doctor who delivered my daughter. It was a midwife with the practice. But it ended up that the nurses who cared for me overnight, they wanted to stay and help me deliver my baby. So I think my husband and I were talking about this accounting. We had six people in the room. So I had two midwives, and then I have four nurses in the room. Actually, they were like a cheering squad. We were just chitchatting in between pushes. And the coolest part was the midwife. I thought my husband would struggle, but he was excellent. And they were like, do you want to catch the baby? And so they let him catch the baby too. So he got to be a big part of the experience, but the whole

Dr. Nicole (24:52): Time, oh, that's really nice.

Erin (24:53): It was awesome. We were chatting, we were joking. I felt good. I felt so supported and safe

Dr. Nicole (25:00): In that moment.

Erin (25:02): They were doing olive oil to help with the stretching and tearing, which I didn't know they were going to do, but I'm so thankful they did. I don't know. It was just a really, I remember it only in a positive way. And then we have one of them offered to take photos and videos. So I have these amazing photos of my husband catching my daughter, and I'm so proud of that moment.

Dr. Nicole (25:28): Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Isn't that amazing? I love it. I love it. I love it. So I presume they brought her right up on your chest?

Erin (25:36): Oh, yeah. Yeah. So immediately, and it's funny, when I look at the pictures, I also noticed that her cord was around her neck, but the midwife is so fast I hadn't even noticed until I look back at the pictures. She comes out, they hand her to me, she's unwrapped the cord, and there she is right on my chest to start on golden hour, which was awesome.

Dr. Nicole (25:58): Awesome. Good. Good, good, good. And did you have to get any stitches or anything like that?

Erin (26:04): I did. I had a first degree tear. I can't remember.

Dr. Nicole (26:09): It was, that's about as minor as you can get.

Erin (26:13): The epidural, like I said, was great. So I didn't feel like the ring of fire or anything when she was born, I didn't feel the stitches. I was just kind of euphoric. I was holding my daughter.

Dr. Nicole (26:22): Right, right. Awesome. And then delayed core clamping and everything. Of

Erin (26:27): Course. And then the one thing too that I forgot to mention that I did ask for too was at the end of the golden hour, I wanted to breastfeed. So I asked if they'd help me latch her too at the end, which they also did for me.

Dr. Nicole (26:37): Okay. Good. Good. And then did she stay in the room with you?

Erin (26:42): She did, yeah. Yeah, I kept her in the room. They offered the nursery, but I don't think I wanted her to at that point. Yeah,

Dr. Nicole (26:50): Exactly. Exactly. Then, so then what was the postpartum period in the hospital? And then I guess once you got home, let's start within the hospital. What was postpartum

Erin (26:59): Like? So the hospital, it's the same thing. I think I just was lucky that I had such a great care team. They came and checked on me every hour, which is hard at nighttime, but I found it really hard to sleep anyway. I think the adrenaline, I don't know. Sure. It was definitely tough the first time getting out bed and having to go pee and all that good stuff. They helped me with that. But otherwise, it was good and pretty. They had a lactation consultant who came and helped me at my request, so I really appreciated that as well. Overall, really good experience for me.

Dr. Nicole (27:36): Okay. Awesome. So you said you went, so then you went home and you said you had a postpartum doula?

Erin (27:43): I did. I know I'm super privileged. My company actually covered my postpartum doula, which is just amazing.

Dr. Nicole (27:50): Are you

Erin (27:50): Serious? So serious, yeah. Any type of doula. I had a certain stipend, and it's offered throughout our entire company.

Dr. Nicole (27:57): That is pretty amazing and not typical.

Erin (28:00): Exactly. Yeah. I'm so blessed. I know that that's just a huge privilege. I could choose to have a doula for birth or a postpartum doula, and I just decided that what I wanted was a postpartum

Dr. Nicole (28:12): Doula. Okay. Okay. So at what point did you hire the postpartum doula?

Erin (28:19): So I started researching providers in our area a few months before my daughter was due. And so basically I hired them six weeks before she came. So they were prepared and ready to go at whatever, whenever she decided to show up.

Dr. Nicole (28:36): Gotcha, gotcha. And this was specifically a postpartum doula?

Erin (28:39): Specifically? Yep.

Dr. Nicole (28:41): Okay. Alright. So then at what point did she meet you at your house or did she come to the hospital, or how did that work?

Erin (28:47): So it was up to us. They would have done either, but we decided to be at home with her for a week. Our daughter first, before I had them come, we alerted her that she was born, and then she said, well, do you want me to start whatever night? Because prepared for X amount of time that she could

Dr. Nicole (29:05): Come.

Erin (29:06): So I said, I want you to start on this date. And then we chose to have her, not during the day, but overnight. And she was also a lactation consultant, so it was great.

Dr. Nicole (29:17): Gotcha. So how frequently did she come and how long did the relationship last?

Erin (29:24): Yeah, so the nice thing is you can kind of decide based on certain providers. So we chose to have her for three nights, for six weeks.

Dr. Nicole (29:33): Oh,

Erin (29:33): Okay. Yeah. So I had her for a long time. I will say, I don't know that next time I would need six

Dr. Nicole (29:39): Weeks

Erin (29:40): Is the only thing I do differently.

Dr. Nicole (29:42): Gotcha, gotcha. And then she just helped with feed. What kind of things did she do? I should ask? So they

Erin (29:48): Took care of me too. If I needed anything while I'm upstairs or whatever, and they're with my daughter sleeping, they would bring me water snacks, things like that. She also would help me with breastfeeding. At that point, I was still having to wake up every two hours. So if I wanted rest, I could say, keep the baby in her nursery and take care of the baby, and then bring her to me.

Dr. Nicole (30:10): Gotcha.

Erin (30:11): Just so that I could recover a little

Dr. Nicole (30:13): Bit. Okay. Okay. So do you think you would do it again, have a postpartum doula?

Erin (30:21): Yeah, I think it changed a lot for me from, I felt more rested, which helped me learn my daughter a little better, I feel like. And then it changed my breastfeeding relationship too. So I think that was super helpful. And then they taught me so many things. So it was two women by the way, that would alternate, and they taught me tricks for gas and how to, I was so slow with changing a diaper way back then. Now it's like a toddler and it's a whole different ballgame. But they taught me how to change a diaper really quickly. I would totally do it again.

Dr. Nicole (30:54): Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. And I'm just still blown away that your company paid for six weeks of a, I mean, that's a decent stipend. That's not like a little stipend.

Erin (31:07): It was amazing. It's not something that I've tried to tell everyone in my company now, because it's kind of hidden in there.

Dr. Nicole (31:14): Of course. Yeah.

Erin (31:15): I'm like, you can have a doula look into it. Right,

Dr. Nicole (31:18): Right. Awesome. And I guess, what made you decide, what was your thought process behind birth versus postpartum doula?

Erin (31:28): Well, I think to me, it's crazy because I don't think of it in this way now, but I felt like birth for me was just, I knew I didn't want to have a medication free birth, so I felt like it was going to be a medical process, and so I didn't need one. In hindsight, maybe it would be different this time I don't think of it as a medical process anymore.

Dr. Nicole (31:50): Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. Okay. But thankfully, it sounds like you had a lot of support from the nurses.

Erin (31:54): Oh, nurses

Dr. Nicole (31:55): And staff and things like that. Yeah. Yeah. And you said the doula helped change your relationship with breastfeeding. What was breastfeeding like and how did having the doula help that?

Erin (32:05): It's hard.

Dr. Nicole (32:08): There we go. Yes.

Erin (32:13): At that point, I was still figuring out how to safely hold a baby because you can practice, but when it's a real living, breathing human being, it feels like a whole different ballgame.

(32:23): And in the hospital, while they were great, I only had the lactation consultant for 15 minutes in the hospital. And when I had my doulas, they would help me find different positions that work better for my daughter. These are ways that you can, your breasts hurt at that first week. And they showed me different ways that I could relieve pain and things like that, so that it kept me going. And then it ended up being a really, we had a great, I breastfed my daughter for 12 months, so it ended up being great. And I don't know if I would've kept going if I hadn't had that support.

Dr. Nicole (33:00): Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. And then how much time from work did you take off

Erin (33:05): Again? I'm pretty lucky. I got 16 weeks off. It still doesn't feel like enough, but I got a lot of time with my daughter. And then my husband also is very lucky. He got 10 weeks off.

Dr. Nicole (33:17): Okay. Oh,

Erin (33:18): Nice. Yeah, so she was home with at least one parent for almost six months of her life.

Dr. Nicole (33:23): Okay. Okay. Oh, so did you all stagger your

Erin (33:26): Leave? We did. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (33:27): Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. So I think I know the answer to this question, but how do you feel about your birth experience?

Erin (33:35): I love this story because it was totally opposite, even with the pain and the back labor and whatever. I'm so proud of myself and my body for what it was able to do. So for me, it was nothing but a positive experience. I only have happy memories of it, and I'm so thankful

Dr. Nicole (33:56): Everybody deserves to feel that way, regardless of you hope everybody has happy memories, so that's wonderful. So then as we wrap up, what is your one piece of advice, one thing you would tell someone who's having a baby?

Erin (34:10): Well, so for birth I'd say trust your body. And if something feels off, it's probably off. And then also know that your body knows what it's supposed to do, so you don't have to be afraid. Love it. That was my thing. I was so afraid. And then it's like, why was I so scared? My body knew what it was doing. Gotcha.

Dr. Nicole (34:32): Gotcha. I love it. Love it. So where can women connect with you? You can say nowhere if you're not on social media or anything like that.

Erin (34:39): Yeah, I'm not a big social media person. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (34:42): Yeah, totally fine. There we go. Alrighty. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come on and share your story. And it's hard to, I talk a lot and I know I work at a place that treats people well, but it's just nice to hear from the other side, someone who actually had a birth experience there that everything went great.

Erin (35:03): Yeah, I will never have a baby anywhere else.

Dr. Nicole (35:07): I love it. Yes.

(35:12): Wasn't that a great episode? It's so nice to be able to hear again that the place where I work also from the patient perspective does well with giving people a great birth experience. Now, after every episode when I have a guest on, I do something called Dr. Nicole's notes where I talk about my top takeaways from the conversation here on my Dr. Nicole's notes, from my conversation with Erin. Number one, those pregnancy apps can be helpful. But I want to echo what Erin said to trust yourself, trust your body, trust your instincts. She knew that things weren't quite intense yet when she went to the hospital the first time, but she went in because the app said it was time for her to go because of the 511 rule. And the 511 is just some guidelines for contractions, contractions that are five minutes apart or less that are lasting for a minute.

(36:03): And they've been that way for at least an hour. Now, I've actually seen this on the flip side where things weren't quite that 511 rule, yet maybe the contractions were seven minutes apart and they weren't quite lasting a minute, but they were crazy intense and ramping up fast. And I've seen on a few occasions where people ignored that in their bodies because it wasn't the 511 rule. And then by the time they got to the hospital, they were like eight centimeters or nine centimeters or about to have the baby. And it was quite overwhelming actually, because things didn't unfold the way they anticipated and they felt like they had no control over things. It was just all very rushed. So listen to your body and know that you can trust yourself. You can trust your instinct. These things are guidelines. They are not hard and fast rules.

(36:55): Okay, number two, I'm going to shout it from the hilltops. Forever and ever, you need to do some childbirth education. Childbirth education is so important to help you be prepared for your birth and help you to weather the things that can happen during your birth. And in Erin's case, everything went well. And maybe she, I'm not going to say she didn't need childbirth education. Maybe she didn't have to put all of the things into practice that she learned, but she didn't know that going into it. And when she went into it prepared, when she went into it, having discussed her birth plan, her wishes already with her doctor, that just set her up to be in a better frame of mind, in a better mindset when she went into her birth because she knew she was going into an environment where people supported the things that were important to her.

(37:49): I firmly believe that that mental space to feel more reassured that you have good support, a good doctor, a good hospital on your side, helps your body to work better because you're not carrying that extra stress. And that is where childbirth education is so important. And in her case, childbirth education was also great because her husband went to it as well. Sometimes your partner ain't trying to go out to classes or the schedule is difficult, which is where something like my class, an online class comes in handy. The birth preparation course, again, that's drnicolerankins.com/enroll where you can check it out. But really please do some childbirth education, good quality childbirth education. If it's not mine, do something because it is so, so important. And then the final thing I want to say is a word about postpartum doulas. I so love how Erin put some thought into when a doula would be most helpful for her.

(38:50): In her case, she felt like a birth doula wouldn't necessarily be as helpful, so she felt like she could use that amazing benefit. By the way, can we talk about that? Everyone should have that amazing benefit through her job of having a doula and putting it towards a postpartum doula. Now, one thing I'll say, in her case, she said the doula came three nights a week, I believe for six weeks. People think they can't afford a postpartum doula. You hear that and you're like, well, I can't afford that. However, you really can tailor the use of a doula to what may work for you. It doesn't necessarily have to be three nights. Some people may pay for seven nights straight for a couple weeks, or you may pay for one night a week for a few weeks, even one night can help give you some space and some rest, and things like that.

(39:43): That can be really, really important. And I love how she pointed out they weren't just helping her take care of the baby, they were taking care of her as well. And that's what a great postpartum doula is going to do. And give you some of that insight, give you some of that advice, give you some of those tips, some of those tricks. Also really helpful if they're a certified lactation consultant as well. That came in handy for her. Now, if you want to learn more about a postpartum doula, check out episode 115 of the podcast, preparing For Life with a New Baby with Postpartum doula, Valerie Rombauer. That's a great episode. You can check it out at drnicolerankins.com/episode15 So there you have it. Please share this podcast with a friend. Also subscribe to the podcast wherever you are listening to me right now. So appreciate it. And do check out the birth preparation course, my online childbirth education class that will get you calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth, but they focus on the hospital. That's drnicolerankins.com/enroll. Use the code, Dr. Nicole to get an additional 10% off. So that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.