Ep 88: Ashlyn’s Birth Story – A Scheduled Labor Induction During COVID-19

We have a lovely & uplifting birth story today, and it's about a topic I get tons of questions about: labor induction!

Ashlyn Bradley is a new mom who lives in Wisconsin with her husband, new baby and two dogs.

Ashlyn decided to be induced because it made the most sense for her and her family in terms of physical comfort, scheduling and safety for her baby. She had a pretty textbook pregnancy, really liked her prenatal care and had a good birth experience too. She shares her birth wishes, how the induction process unfolded and what her labor and delivery felt like.  

Ashlyn and her husband have had to navigate some extra obstacles because their baby arrived right as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking off in the US, so they have had to limit family visits and help. She also talks about being a first generation breastfeeder and donating her extra milk to other new parents in her area. 

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why Ashlyn decided to be induced with her first baby.
  • How her pregnancy developed and what she liked about her prenatal care and birth team. 
  • Ashlyn's birth wishes and why she was willing to be flexible on how her labor & delivery went.
  • How her care changed before, during and after her pregnancy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • What Ashlyn's labor was like and why she chose to have an epidural.
  • How she and her husband are navigating restricted family visits to keep themselves and their new baby safe.
  • Why Ashlyn is donating some of her breastmilk and what it's like being the first in her family to breastfeed.



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Transcript

Ep 88: Ashlyn's Birth Story - A Scheduled Labor Induction During COVID-19

Nicole: On today's episode of the podcast and we have an absolutely lovely birth story.

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

Nicole: Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 88, and as always, I'm so thankful that you are spending some of your time with me today. So in this episode, we have a birth story and this one is just a really happy, lovely birth story. It's from Ashlyn. Ashlyn describes herself as being a mid- 20's small town Wisconsin first time mom, trying to balance life and career. She and her husband share their house with their daughter and two dogs. And Ashlyn said she is the queen in the house of girls. On an average weekend, you can find her out in the garden, out on the hiking trails or relaxing watching reruns of The Office. Ashlyn reached out to be on the podcast because she had a really great experience with being induced and she seen the not so encouraging stories and unfortunate, bad stories about labor induction.

Nicole: And she just really wanted to share her story as an example of how labor induction doesn't have to be scary, and in fact, can go very well. So that is what we are going to hear about in today's episode. Now I have another podcast episode on labor induction that is episode number 70, and I will link that in the show notes as well. That's where I talk about what labor induction is and how it happens and reasons why it may happen. But I have an even more in-depth lesson in The Birth Preparation Course, my signature online childbirth education class, I have an in-depth lesson in there about labor induction as well. That lesson is part of Step Three of my Beautiful Birth Prep Process and my Beautiful Birth Prep Process is my unique system that I teach within the course that ensures you are calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. In Step Three of that Beautiful Birth Prep Process is preparing yourself for the possibilities.

Nicole: Birth is an unpredictable process. And with the Birth Preparation Course, you will be ready to ride those waves of unpredictability like a champ if they come your way. As one of my students said in the private Facebook group for the All Access Level of the course, she said, I'm so grateful for all the knowledge we took from the birth preparation course, to be able to ask questions as the labor induction process unfolded. You can learn all about The Birth Preparation Course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. The All Access Level with increased access to me is currently discounted at 40% off. So do check that out at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. All right, let's get into the episode with Ashlyn.

Nicole: Thank you so much Ashlyn, for agreeing to come on to the podcast. I'm super excited to hear about your story. It is a topic that I get lots and lots of questions about. We're going to get into it um your labor induction. So I'm super excited that you reached out.

Nicole: Yes, I'm super excited to tell my story and hopefully this will kind of help other women and other mamas have a little less fear about labor inductions.

Nicole: I hope so. I hope so. So why don't you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your family?

Nicole: Sure. So I am actually, I'm a younger mom, so I did just turn 24. Our daughter Zoe was our first, it's my husband and I, and we have two dogs. Yeah. We just kind of live in a little small town, Wisconsin. So yeah, we don't, not do too much. We're pretty outdoorsy people. So we just kind of hang out outside a lot and play around with our dogs.

Nicole: Love it, love it. That is lovely. And you are indeed on the younger side of, of being a mom and I love that name, Zoe. That's always one of my favorite names.

Nicole: Yes. We, I know we, we, we really enjoy and, um, that's just a nice little, little cute little name that we decided to try to bring back. So.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. So why don't we start off and obviously we're going to talk about your birth, but before we get to the birth, I think it's important to have a background of what happened during the pregnancy. So tell us a bit about what your pregnancy and your prenatal care was like. Did you see a physician? A midwife? How did things go?

Nicole: Sure. So yeah, I guess more or less had kind of a textbook pregnancy if you will. Um, I never had any high blood pressure. I did see a physician, so I saw an OB GYN, um, through a birthing center, like a hospital here. So yeah, it was pretty much the textbook pregnancy standard weight gain. Um, no, no major issues, pretty much it all throughout the entire 40 weeks that I, that I was pregnant. So I'll go. So it was great.

Nicole: Lovely, lovely. And do you feel like you were supported, were you happy with your, your physician and your care?

Nicole: Yes, definitely. Definitely supportive. They were all my nurses were great on my OB was great, listened to all my concerns that I had cause I was pregnant. Um, and I had Zoe just as COVID was starting. So they were starting to do a lot of precautions and everything when I was still pregnant with her. So he was there to answer all of my questions and definitely put my mind at ease for that, at least. For sure.

Nicole: Nice. Nice. How did your prenatal care change once COVID hit? Did you have fewer visits or how did it change?

Nicole: So I, I was, I'd had Zoe shortly as the pandemic was starting. And so they started putting precautions and, and it was only myself that could go into the appointments. I had to wear a mask the entire time. They did start temperature checking us a little bit more. They did at the entrance and then obviously standard procedure for like our regular appointments as well, but my husband couldn't come along anymore. Um, so I think that was a little bit of a change. He would always be at every appointment that I had. That was a little bit, a little sad just cause it was our first baby, but obviously with everything going on, we just kind of had to put that into perspective as well.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. For sure. So what kind of things did you do to prepare for your birth? Books that you read or classes that you took? What'd you do?

Nicole: I, so they did have a class available. Um, it was kind of just like an overall birthing class that they had available at our hospital. Um, my husband and I did take that and then I also listened to your podcast and there's another podcast that I listened to on Spotify as well. And then I actually just kind of, I did a lot of exercise, so I do a lot of yoga. Um, so I did a lot of yoga towards the end of my pregnancy just to kind of help with the labor in that aspect at least, but just a lot of, a lot of exercise, a lot of moderate exercise. I always had that cleared with my OB GYN before I did anything. But I did a lot of like, I'm a big person who likes to listen to professionals on podcasts. So I always look for somebody who's kind of qualified to be talking about, um, what they're speaking about. That was what really drew me to your podcast.

Nicole: Well, thank you. What other podcasts did you listen to? I don't mind. I know I'm not the only one that folks listen to.

Nicole: Yeah, there was this one and I believe it's called the Kick Pregnancy Podcast. It's with Dr. Pat, I think they're based in Australia, but it's always, I always really like listening to them as well, just because I like to see the differences in health care over there versus over here as well. So it was just kind of an interesting comparison, so.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. And did you find the hospital's class helpful?

Nicole: Yes. Yes. They, and it was nice just because they talked about their procedures and all the different things that they do there. They did a lot of the, these don't happen a lot. Like the, what if things that was just kind of nice to see all of the potential things like if XYZ happened, this is the method that we would use. So it was really, for me, I'm all about information. So I need, I need to know everything, including all the things that may or may not happen. So it was just a lot of really good information for me to kind of take in just in case something were to happen.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And hospital there, somehow hospital childbirth classes that are great, that they sound like what you were able to take and was it free or did you have to pay for it?

Nicole: No, it was free, which was really nice.

Nicole: That is nice. Yeah, some that are free and they're great, and they're non biased, and they provide great information, and that's lovely. But unfortunately, some of them court kind of steer you towards like getting into the system and push towards epidurals and interventions and things like that. But it doesn't sound like you had that type of experience at all.

Nicole: No, thankfully, yeah. They talked about epidurals and kind of the different side effects and things that go into that. But then they also talked about, um, nonmedical things that you can do as well as like your breathing and just a lot of different options that they have. They had jetted tubs and showers that you could use as well as alternate things that you can use. So they had all different resources that were available to us at that time. So.

Nicole: Nice, nice, nice. That is very nice. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth experience?

Nicole: One thing for me, I know I just really wanted to be heard. Um, if anything were to go wrong, that was just, that was my main thing is that if I wanted something, I wanted to make sure somebody heard me and was like, okay, this is, this is what she wants. This is what she needs. We're going to do what we can do to get her that. That was my big thing. And the only other thing that I really 100% cared about was just making sure that Zoe came out safe, like in a safe environment and everything was a calm environment. I didn't want anything super crazy, super hectic or anything like that. So those were definitely the two big things that were the most important to me.

Nicole: Gotcha. And I think that's what, like everyone wants probably is the biggest things for you and your baby to be safe and to be heard and like respected throughout the process. For sure. Did you have any preferences surrounding pain management or anything?

Nicole: I was open to just about anything. Um, and I know like for me, that's just kind of my general personality. I just want to make sure that like, I want to know what my options are. So then at least if I want to try something else before jumping to an epidural, I know that that's there. So if I do decide at that moment, like this is something that I want, then I can try that. And if it doesn't work, I can have alternates available to me.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So, um, do you feel like your preparation or anything changed as a result of the pandemic? Did you have to switch things up or anything?

Nicole: A little bit. Yeah, so we, uh, I could only have one support person in there with me and then we weren't really allowed to have many visitors. Um, at the time, like I said, it was kind of just at the tipping point. Um, so we could only have two people at a time and really only two people a day. So we couldn't have many people coming in and I do, um, my husband and I have a large family, so it was kind of difficult in that regard. Like she's the first grandchild and great grandchild for most. So, yeah. So she was definitely high on the anticipation list and the excitement to come and see her, but we kind of have to navigate through that just to be like, unfortunately, due to what's going on. Like we kind of had to put the top people first and then everybody else will just kind of see her when we can, when we can.

Nicole: Gotcha. And I, you know, sadly hearing that now, even saying that two visitors, that sounds like generous.

Nicole: Heaven. Yes. Like heaven to some people I know. So thankfully we were fortunate in that regard. Yeah. We had her just at the tipping point, but they had already started doing a lot of things in preparation for it. So yes. Now we were very blessed in that regards for sure.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So you actually, well, I guess we'll talk about it. Did you decide that you want to be induced or did your doctor offer it as an option? How did you come to be induced?

Nicole: Sure. Yeah, it was kind of a, I guess a little bit of all. So he, I was at my last appointment before my due date and he said, okay, like, you know, obviously she's not here yet, so we can set an induction date. And, at that time, I had actually had the worst heartburn of my life. I was about breathing fire those last couple of weeks. So I was to the point where I'm just like, you know what, let's, let's set a date and let's, let's get this baby out. So we, and he only does at least, I think it was actually kind of due to COVID, but he does labor inductions on Tuesdays. So it would technically either have been the day before her due date or the week after. And so I just decided let's do it the day before, because my husband also actually does work third shift.

Nicole: So it actually kind of throws a little bit of wrench into like our scheduling and things like that. Cause he works 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM. And if I were to have my water break in the middle of the night, he would have had to drive home and then come get me and then go to the hospital. It was just a lot of, a lot of running around it would have had to do so just for scheduling purposes as well. It just worked for our family. It worked perfectly at the time. So I was just like, you know what, let's just, let's just do this and it'll all be all right.

Nicole: Gotcha. And you bring up a really important point, is that for some people and families actually induction works better all the way around because of scheduling things or things like that. Or it's like, you may just be miserable and ready to be done. Like there's nothing wrong with that.

Nicole: Yeah. It was kind of a combination of both. I definitely was ready to have her at that point just for my own sanity and my own sake there towards the end. But she was also like tracking perfectly healthy, perfectly. Like there were no concerns about her or her growth or anything as well. So I was like, you know, she's we're right at the end anyway. So she'll, she'll be fine.

Nicole: Yep. Yep. Exactly. So why don't you tell us about what the induction process was like?

Nicole: Sure. So yes, so I was admitted into the hospital at, I think it was 6:30 AM that Tuesday. So I got there, they kind of got me all set up in my bed and everything got my IVs in. And so they kind of started the, they kind of were getting everything ready. He explained to me like the Pitocin and everything that they used and they used, Oh gosh, I don't know. It's like the little pill that they use to insert in there. I think it was Cervadil

Nicole: Cervidil yep. You got it. Yep. Cervidil

Nicole: Yeah, it was like Cervidil they use that, and that was inserted, I believe right away at 8:00 AM. My husband had finally came with working third. He had to work the night prior, so yeah, so he came in when they were kind of getting me all ready. So I had my Cervidil inserted around 7:30, eight o'clock and they kind of started the Pitocin right away. So then I had to wait in my bed for a little bit. Cause obviously you can't get up right after they inserted in everything. So I was kind of hanging around, just waiting for kind of things to get started when I was admitted, I think they gave me a very generous half a centimeter dilated. Um, so I was pretty much like right at the nothing point we were starting pretty much from zero. So then they had me kind of get up, walk around for awhile. I would bounce on a ball on, I just did a lot of, a lot of walking around for a little while. So I think I did that for a couple hours while I was getting started. And I think by around 10 o'clock, um, my OB GYN came in, um, he broke my water.

Nicole: By 10 o'clock, you were already dilated enough that he could break your water? So just a cup, like three hours?

Nicole: Yeah, it was about three. It was about two to three hours. Yeah. I was walking around and bouncing on a ball. Yeah. He came, they checked and they're like, all right, let's break. Let's go get your doctor and let's go break your water. Okay. Yeah. So it was really, I progressed pretty well, so that was nice.

Nicole: Gotcha. And were you hurting during that time or?

Nicole: No, I wouldn't say I have, I shouldn't say that I have a high pain threshold. I'd say like about average, I'd say about average. Um, the, I was, I was doing okay. I was definitely feeling it, but I was like, I tried to stay in like the best mood that I could, because if I can continue smiling, then I don't really think about it.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And I should say, sorry, do you mind, did he, was it like a discussion? Was it like a, we can do this and it may speed things up or was it kinda like, it's just time to break your water?

Nicole: He, he was pretty, he's like, you know, he's like, we don't have to and we can wait for it to break. He's like, or we can break it and like, you know, kind of get things moving and I'm like, let's get this baby out of here. So let's break the water.

Nicole: Gotcha. So there was definitely, it wasn't, there was definitely an option. It sounded like.

Nicole: Yes, yes. Yeah. He definitely gave me an option, so yes. Then they broke my water and then it was a lot of walking around, again, a lot of bouncing and I think by round it was like 1:30, two o'clock I was about six or seven centimeters, I believe. And yeah. So like I said, progressing fairly well. And at that point I was just at the point where I'm like, you know, I'm, I was so uncomfortable and just with all the contractions that I was having, I just decided that, okay, let's get the epidural. I said, let's just let's do it. Let's be, let's be more comfortable. So I decided to get that. And that was a godsend in the end. It was definitely the best choice for myself.

Nicole: Gotcha. And how was the procedure of getting the epidural?

Nicole: That one? Um, it was, it went smoothly, I guess as much as it could. Cause obviously you're still having contractions while you're getting your epidural. So for me it was, I feel like the stereotypical lean over hunched over hang onto a pillow while they put the epidural in. Um, for me it was a little bit because I actually didn't know this about myself. He had inserted and then he said, okay, I'm not really happy with where it's placed, so I'm going to take it out and put it back in.

Nicole: Okay. And you're like, uh, what are you doing back there?

Nicole: Yeah. So that was a little like, so I was just like, Oh my God, if this isn't start working pretty soon, I'm just gonna, cause like I said, obviously you're still having your contractions. So I was just ready for like that part to be over. So the second time he got it in and he's like, okay, like much happier with where that is. And so he came around and he goes, so did you know that you have scoliosis? And I was like, no, I had absolutely no idea.

Nicole: Right, right, right.

Nicole: So he's like, yeah. And he's like, well, do you have like chronic back pain or anything? And I said, no, like I haven't had any, I haven't had any issues at all. He was like, oh, well he's like, unfortunately like the only ways that you really find out or is if you have chronic back pain or if you're getting an epidural.

Nicole: So I said, well, I have no idea. And he's like, well, the placement is in a much better place now. So you should be all set to go in the future, like as, as you continue. Um, and he said just, I guess make a note of that for, if you decide to have a next baby, just kind of keep that in mind. Like as like, you know, you have scoliosis, so then at least if I'm not your anesthesiologist, at least still kind of have a heads up when they decide to do that. So that was a little bit of a wrench.

Nicole: Exactly. Exactly. Well, that was definitely a little bit of a surprise. Yeah. Yeah. For sure. For sure. Yeah, yeah. And do you feel like he was otherwise a nice person, the anesthesiologist?

Nicole: He had the most calming voice I've ever heard in my entire life. It was really, it was really nice, especially cause like I said you're, you're having contractions while they're like, you know, more or less shoving a needle into your back. So he had the most, the most calming voice. Like it sounded just like waves crashing. It was, I could of listened to him talk all day. So yes, he was great.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. That's great. That is great. Lovely, lovely. Okay. So then you get the epidural and then what happens from there?

Nicole: It was about between one and two and it was great. I was able to just kind of, once you obviously have the epidural, you're not allowed to really get up and move at all. And so I got my catheter in my two labor nurses were fantastic. They came in and were monitoring Zoe the entire time. Just kind of making sure that she was comfortable with everything. And they would obviously have to flip me back and forth all the time. I had a lot of pillows and balls between my legs just to kind of make sure I was dilating still and everything. And I had progressed actually quicker, if that was possible when, after I had my epidural, because I had suddenly like kind of started like getting the shakes a little bit and they're like, oh, are you cold? And I was like, no. And she's like, well let me, let me check and see where you're at. And I was nine centimeters. So I had gone from, I think it was about six to nine in about a half hour.

Nicole: Oh wow. Okay.

Nicole: Yeah. So I had, so she's like, that's why she's like, it's your, like your body and like your adrenaline and your hormones and everything. So I was kind of shaking there for just with all of that going on. So they got me like some heated blankets and I was just able to kind of relax and kind of close my eyes a little bit just to kind of relax and I guess prepare to have a baby and in a very, very short amount of time I am.

Nicole: Right, right, right.

Nicole: So it was, so that was really nice. And my husband was there the whole time. He was kind of making sure I was comfortable and keeping me laughing and smiling. So that was, that was really good.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So then, um, how soon, or when did you start put, like when did you get to completely dilating dilated and start pushing?

Nicole: It was, I think it was shortly before four. I was, I was 10 centimeters dilated. I was pushing with my labor nurses and everything was going great. And I think after either one or maybe two or three rounds of pushing, they're like, let us go get your OB, like you're, you're ready to have a baby. So, and then I had her, I did two more rounds of pushing and I had her just before five o'clock. So I think I did a total of five rounds of pushing in like 25 minutes before I had her.

Nicole: Okay. That was nice. Yeah. So you had your whole labor from start to finish was pretty short and then you didn't push that long either?

Ashlyn: No. Yeah. I think total from the time I entered the hospital until the time she was in my arms, it was a little less than 10 hours, I believe.

Nicole: Nice.

Ashlyn: So yeah, just from the time I walked in until not even like getting in my bed and everything, just from the time I entered the hospital.

Nicole: Right, right. Lovely, lovely. Now did, did they bring her right up on your chest or do skin to skin contact fairly quickly?

Nicole: Yes. Yep. Gave her, gave her right away to me. Yeah. They were like taking care of her cord and everything. She was with me the entire time. And then once we kind of got our skin to skin and everything, they weighed her and just got her cleaned up and everything for me while they were, I did end up having an episiotomy as well, but that was just because, so she had a little bit of a bigger head, so I just needed a little bit of help to get her out. So then as they were just kind of finishing up my stitches and getting her cleaned up, they gave her back to me and then she was with me for the rest of the time.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. So, and did they do delayed cord clamping?

Nicole: Yup. Yup. They did everything that I had asked. Yeah. Delayed cord clamping, skin to skin. Um, I did want to like breastfeed her right away. So they gave me that opportunity as well. So yeah, they, thankfully all of my, my husband was kind of keeping an eye open, but they, they listened to everything that I had asked for earlier that day. So.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And what was the discussion around the episiotomy? Like, I'm curious, how did he present that?

Nicole: So it was actually funny. Um, I actually didn't even really know until she was on my chest and cause I had obviously my epidural, so I didn't really feel anything. Um, which was great. So I didn't really feel anything. And I didn't really know until I was holding her and this is going to be sound super cheesy, but like the old, the movies where like you see them doing like the really big stitch where they're like putting their whole, whole arms straight and everything, that's actually kind of what he was doing. And that's how I realized that I had an episiotomy.

Nicole: Gotcha. Well, did he say that he did an episiotomy?

Ashlyn: He did afterwards. Yeah. Afterwards he did. And at that point I was just like, you know, whatever it took to get her out. I was okay with, because yeah, he kind of explained to me afterwards, he just said like we did do an episiotomy, my two rounds. Like I was just about getting her out, but her head was just a little bit too big where she, she just couldn't get through. And he said, you know, I just didn't like, we didn't want her oxygen supply to dip down or anything like that. And I said, you know, she's happy and healthy and perfectly fine. So whatever you had to do, I was perfectly fine with.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And so, and I'm obviously not criticizing, but I would say if that, that would be the one area where I would say for me personally, I think he could have asked you, you know, like before it happened.

Ashlyn: Yes. Yeah. But on the flip side it feels like because everything during your pregnancy and your relationship with the OB, you trusted that he would make a decision that was in your best interests, so to speak.

Ashlyn: Yeah. And we had kind of talked about episiotomies throughout my, like just routine pregnancy care. He asked if I knew what they were and I thought I was relatively familiar with them and if I had any like questions or apprehensions with them, and I really didn't. Um I had kind of done my research on them. And I know like between episiotomies and tearing, I kind of read some of the data and things like that. But at the end of the day, if it was, I trusted him, if that was what needed to be done to get my daughter out safely, then that was the option that we were going to take..

Nicole: Gotcha. Okay. And then it sounded like you said, the staff in general was attentive, supportive all of those good, great things.

Ashlyn: Yes. I don't think I could have done it without both of my labor nurses. They both were, were great. I had some, my body does some, I found out this some very interesting things during labor. I couldn't be dipped below a certain angle and I wasn't actually able to drink anything that entire time without being nauseous and vomiting. So it was just, I think my, just my body in that situation and the hormones and everything, that's just something that I wasn't able to do. So they were, they were great.

Nicole: Yeah. Nausea and vomiting can be fairly common and most people do not want to eat during the day.

Ashlyn: Yeah. They, um, yeah, I didn't eat anything during, but yeah, I couldn't drink. Um, I couldn't do the ice chips or anything like that. And as soon as they, they had laid me, they tipped my bed back at one point, just to kind of like, I think get me at a better angle for when I was preparing to push in my body said no to that. So they were, they were amazing. They made it a very upbeat and positive environment for me the entire time. So I definitely couldn't have done it without them.

Nicole: Love it. Love it, love it. So did you know that other than the visitors policy, was there anything else that was being done differently because of COVID?

Ashlyn: They had to, I know they had to scrub in and out every single time they came in. So it had to be like washed, sanitized. They did have a masks on a lot, and I know they, there was a couple of things that they had to do. Um, just in general, throughout the, the maternity ward, they were having to clean every so often and they actually were doing a fire drill that entire day. So we had the fire alarm going off all day. Well, I wasn't. Yeah. So it was just, there's a lot of interesting things going on and I was like, welcome to the world baby Zoe. Thankfully I think it had stopped by the time I had her, but it was just all day. I think it was, it was on. And I was like, oh, I was like, well welcome, welcome to 2020.

Nicole: Right. So I think I know the answer to this question already, but how did you feel about, or how do you feel about your birth experience and is there anything you weren't happy about?

Ashlyn: No, everything was, everything was great. Um, like I said, the, the only thing that I was like, again, I was totally fine with the episiotomy, but that was the only thing that I didn't really have, like planned, if you will going in. The epidural, it was like my, my option for me, I knew it was there for me. And I was just kind of going to go with the flow and see how my labor went. And if that was something that I needed to utilize, at least I knew it was there, but everything else was just kind of go with the flow. Let's see how things roll and we'll make our decisions from there.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And how do you feel like you healed physically from the episiotomy, if you don't mind me asking?

Ashlyn: Yeah, I had no issues. I had everything healed perfectly on my, was able to have a followup visit um because I had an episiotomy because by the time my follow up visit came COVID was kind of in full force by that time. So we, I was able to go in and to get everything checked and everything healed perfectly, no issues, no nothing with the stitching. So it was, it was all good for me.

Nicole: Good. Good, good, good, good. One thing that I have come to realize is that it's not just birth, that's different during this pandemic. It is what's happening afterwards. That's different as well. So you mentioned that you have a large family. How have you navigated? And this is a very like, you know, prized baby on both sides of the family. How have you navigated visitors during the pandemic?

Ashlyn: Yes, it has been, it was very difficult at first because I have, I have two brothers of my own and my husband has his sister, so they were able to come see us in the hospital. My one brother at least, my other brother is stationed on the other side of the country, but we were able to kind of bring them in two at a time to let them kind of see her. But extended family, most of them didn't actually get to really meet her until she was about three months old, I believe.

Nicole: Okay. That's what I was going to ask. Like, even when you went home, I presume you kind of put the brakes on things.

Ashlyn: Yeah, it was, it was really, it was really upsetting for a lot of people, but they understood obviously with everything that was going on. Cause we, yeah, we had her right at the tipping point. So pretty much as soon as brought her home is when things started to shut down. So once things kind of shut down, everybody was like, okay, we understand if you aren't comfortable with people coming around and kind of keeping her to yourself at this point. So it was really just my husband and I, and our two dogs with her for about the first three months. And then after, um, around summertime, it was around June when I had to start going back to work is when we kind of started to introduce people slowly to her.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. Okay. And I had some people have some, it's been really difficult. Some family members, people have family members that are not quite so understanding or don't want to do the things that are necessary in order to keep everybody safe. But it sounds like fortunately you didn't have those kinds of issues.

Ashlyn: I think there were, there were a couple, I think in the beginning because she was such a high profile baby, if you will. Um, there were, there were a couple issues in the beginning, but I think the more we persisted, the more they understood with what was going on. So.

Nicole: Gotcha. And it sounds like you did persist and say, hey, like, this is kind of just what has to happen.

Ashlyn: Yes. My big thing was if the world is shut down, then unfortunately our house is shut down, so.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. I hear you. I hear you. And you said you went back to work. So how have you managed childcare? Cause that has definitely been a concern for lots of people with a new baby.

Ashlyn: Yes, that, that was, I know a big concern for me because I was thankful enough that my work allowed me to work from home for a little while after my maternity leave ended. And just for me personally, by the time my maternity leave ended and with the way my job was structured at the time, I kind of had to go back to the office and it was also a little bit of a blessing for me too, because I was pretty much stuck in my house from March until June. Um, I wasn't really, the only place that I went was the hospital for her checkups and mine. So I was like, I definitely just need to get out of these four walls before I start to lose my mind. So I went back to the office and I we're very blessed as well. Her daycare is amazing. They've taken every precaution that they've been able to, masks are required. They have face shields, sanitation. They actually closed off the building. So like parents aren't allowed into the building. They have a little entryway where they do like drop offs where you can drop off your baby or your child and they'll take them to their room for them. Temperature checks. They have pretty much done every precaution possible since she started in June. They're still continuing to do it today. So we've definitely been very blessed and they've kind of put my mind at ease there for, for that process.

Nicole: Oh, that's nice. That's very, very nice. Cause that's a, been a really big struggle for lots of things.

Ashlyn: Yes, definitely. And I, they, they, they, we were, we were definitely very blessed when we were able to get her there. They've been amazing and they're always open for suggestions. And if there's anything that they, we feel or any of the parents feel that could be improved and their processing and how they're cleaning or doing things they're so we're definitely very grateful for them.

Nicole: Nice, nice. Nice. And then how have you and your husband navigated this new time? I mean, so many like big new things happening. Good and bad, obviously good with having a new baby, but in the middle of a pandemic. And it's your first baby, so it's a lot of changes to your relationship.

Ashlyn: Yes. And definitely with him, um working third shift as well. I'm still like that kind of always throws an extra little, little wrench in there, but yeah, we were spending a lot more time together than we were used to. So there, there was some of that and I think that's, that's pretty common when, like I said, when your, your relationship changes a little bit, when you bring your first baby home and everything, and even your, even every other baby after that, it always kind of throws a, a new wrench in there. But thankfully we, we navigated it pretty well on my, I am actually a first generation breastfeeder in my family. So I, that was very new to me. So I didn't really have anybody to go to or a lot of resources for that. So I had to do a lot of just like research and kind of reach out to some of the people that I knew had children and see if they've breastfed or if they have any like suggestions or like new ideas to me, or if they can field any of my questions. And yeah, that was, that was, I think is the biggest struggle for me, but just from my family of being a first generation breastfeeder that was, that was a big thing for me. But I did have a friend that I worked with prior who was amazing and she was able to answer any question that I had, but we, she couldn't really come and see me. So we did a lot of like FaceTimes and like just text messages. And I would try to describe things the best that I could I'm like, is this normal? I don't really know, but she was, she was able to be there for me the best that she could, but that I think was the biggest thing for me in my postpartum stages that I, I couldn't really have anybody there to help me if I had questions or if I had concerns at all.

Nicole: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And I was going to ask that, had you planned on having any family come in to help initially, but then suddenly they couldn't?

Ashlyn: We had some people who we like were planning on coming for generally like a day at a time just to kind of help me out. Like, so obviously we do have two dogs and everything as well, just to kind of help me balance that out right away. But then we kind of just decided it'd be better if we didn't. Um, just because we didn't want any other family to kind of get upset with everything else and having to limit that. So we just decided no, so we just cut everybody off. So it was just myself and my husband there. So we just kind of took it on together.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And do you think you are, or did you have any trouble with postpartum?

Ashlyn: I did not. Thankfully I did have a friend who did, and she kind of just gave me her advice and the best warning. Like, you know, if you start to feel this way, don't be afraid to talk to me, reach out to your doctor, reach out to the resources that you have because it is a very serious thing.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I will, and I forgot to ask, are you still breastfeeding or pumping or?

Ashlyn: Yes. We are. Uh, seven months. Yes. So I, I pump and breastfeed still since I went back to work, but we are seven months in now and I am actually a donor as well.

Nicole: Really? Okay. So just first generation and an over producer, look at you.

Ashlyn: Yes. An over producer. So yes, I am a donor. I did make my first big donation to the milk bank that we have in this area. So I did donate over 500 ounces.

Nicole: Oh, wow.

Ashlyn: Yeah. So that'll be going to the critically ill and NICU babies in the Great Lakes area. So.

Nicole: Oh nice, nice. That is a really good thing. I love that. I love that. So we'll just to wrap up, what would be your favorite, your best piece of advice that you would give to other women who are giving birth during this pandemic?

Ashlyn: My biggest thing, like you said, this could be by personality as well, but definitely just kind of roll with the punches while you can. We're definitely living in an unprecedented time. So don't be afraid to ask questions and get the answers that you need to feel comfortable because at the end of the day, that's, what's most important as long as you're comfortable and your baby are happy and healthy and come into this world in the best environment that you can that's at the end of the day, what's the most important thing. So don't be afraid to ask those questions and feel comfortable in your environment.

Nicole: Love it, love it, love it. So are you on social media or anything like that?

Ashlyn: I am in also in your Facebook group as well.

Nicole: Oh yay.

Ashlyn: Yeah, so I have had people reach out to me on Facebook cause I have a lot of people do ask about induction. So I do comment a lot and I do kind of just give my what kind of happened with me and my situation.

Nicole: Well then, you know, a lot from being in the Facebook group, how many people post about induction. So, well, thank you.

Ashlyn: So many people. Yeah. So many people. So I always try to give them my story cause yeah, just because they hear a lot of the bad ones, so I always try to give them the positive one, everything, how everything went well for me. So people can always reach out to me there I am on Instagram as well. So people can, if they have questions or anything like that, I am more than happy to share my story and the things that happened with me. So.

Nicole: Okay. Love it. Well, thank you so much Ashlyn. I so appreciate you coming on. This was a really great story and thank you for your contribution in the Facebook group. That's one of the best things about that group is that I don't have to do a lot in that group. Honestly, it's the people supporting each other.

Ashlyn: Yes. And everybody's really ever all the girls in there are great. They have a lot of questions that everybody's really warm and welcoming and they, they answer a lot of questions and I think they put a lot of people's minds at ease, especially ever. Everybody's always available for questions and reinsurance.

Nicole: Yup. For sure. For sure. All right. Well thanks so much Ashlyn again. I appreciate it. You take care.

Ashlyn: Thank you. You as well.

Nicole: Just a lovely, nice birth story. I really appreciate Ashlyn reaching out and sharing her experience. And you know after every episode of the podcast, if you've been listening, you know that when I have a guest on do something called Nicole's Notes where I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the episode. So here are Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Ashlyn. Number one, it is okay if you want to be induced, all right, in Ashlyn's circumstance, she says she was having terrible heartburn. Her husband works third shift and trying to coordinate that, they just felt better for them as a couple, a family, that induction was the right thing for them. And that is totally okay if you come to that decision that you want to be induced, it's okay. If you know what you're getting into, you know what to expect, you know, the risk, you know, the benefits, you know, how it goes. As long as you're making an informed decision, that's what you choose then that is perfectly okay. So if you want to be induced, then go for it. Number two, I really love her story, but I have to say that the episiotomy and her doctor not asking for consent before the episiotomy just still does not sit well with me.

Nicole: And it sounds like her doctor was a very lovely person and Ashlyn would have totally given consent. If he asked if he would have taken just a second and said, hey, this is what we need to do in order for your baby to be born. I'm guessing because of the way she trusted him, she would have totally said yes. So there's not really a good reason that it couldn't have been asked in the moment. So anytime, something like that that's done as invasive as an episiotomy, then an episiotomy is a cut in the tissue in order to make space for the baby to be born. Then there really should be, um, a discussion about informed consent. Period. And that's regardless of how like nice someone is or, you know, those kinds of things, it just really needs to be discussed. Period. And I have a podcast episode on episiotomy as well.

Nicole: I can't remember the number off the top of my head, but again, we can link that in the show notes as well. And then the final point I want to say is that Ashlyn and her husband have stood firm in that postpartum period with the visitation related to restrictions and things. I shouldn't say restrictions, I should say necessary things that need to be done as a result of COVID baby's immune systems are fragile and you really need to take all of the necessary precautions to protect them. And that includes limiting visitors. And this is something that you need to do outside of COVID anyway, especially within that first month, making sure that people wash their hands and that they're not coming around the baby if they're sick. But I think in this times of COVID you really need to take that up a notch. Okay.

Nicole: So don't be afraid to stand firm in that postpartum period when it comes to having visitors and keeping your baby safe from COVID. All right. So that is it for this episode of the podcast, be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcast or wherever you're listening, ah Spotify, Google Play, wherever you're listening to me right now. And you know, I would love it. If you leave an honest review in Apple Podcast, in particular, it helps the show to grow. It helps other women to find the show. I also do shout outs from those reviews on episodes. Ashlyn also mentioned my free Facebook group. It's called All About Pregnancy & Birth. This is a community that was really over time, kind of co-created by me and the members. It's a truly supportive and non-judgmental place to connect with other pregnant mamas. So you can find that group by searching All About Pregnancy & Birth on Facebook, or of course, the link will be in the show notes. Now, next week on the podcast, I have a really fun interview with a dog trainer and she talks about how to make it so that your fur baby and your human baby get along well together. So do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth Podcast, head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on how to make a birth plan that works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.

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