This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way. So join us for another episode.
Heather: Welcome to the Milk Minute Podcast, everybody.
Maureen: Yes, welcome. Today’s interview is with the wonderful Stephanie who hosts the podcast, Pregnancy and Birth Made Easy.
Heather: Stephanie’s a mom to three boys who all had extremely different births, which she talks about in the episode today.
She is also a professional childbirth educator, doula, and course creator of the online childbirth class called My Essential Birth, and we wanted to bring Stephanie on today to give a nod to our listeners who are still pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant with their next baby. Her message is that pregnancy and birth can have some ease to it.
Did we say ease, like easy? Yes, we did. Yes. So I know all of you are probably thinking no way. And we encourage you to listen in because she gives you some tangible things that you can do to bring that ease back in. And also we touch on a lot of really, really good tips that like I wouldn’t have even thought of as a midwife.
And I wish that I had had her available when I was pregnant with Heidi, because it really would’ve made all the difference.
Maureen: Yeah. Well, we’re gonna hear what Stephanie has to say in a minute, but first, let’s thank some patrons and we’re gonna read an email from a listener.
Heather: So today we wanna give a huge shout out to our patrons, Lizzie C, Lily P and Sarah F from Rochester, New York.
Maureen: Thank you so much. We really appreciate all of our patrons. Seriously.
Heather: Yeah. Every dollar that you contribute to the show goes directly back into supporting production of the show and paying all the people that keep it running. Yeah. And we really appreciate it.
We’ve, by the way, we’ve been growing leaps and bounds. This podcast is now in over 120 countries, which is wild. Crazy. So thank you so much. And if you’re on the other side of the world listening to us, will you please email us and let us, let us know.
Maureen: I would love to hear from people in different continents and different cultures, and I’m just like, What? You listen to us? Tell me about that. Yeah. And tell me about you.
Heather: Listen to us. Speaking of emails, we do have an email from a listener. But first, let’s take a minute to thank one of our wonderful sponsors.
You guys, Breastfeeding For Busy Moms, my little breastfeeding clinic, isn’t so little anymore.
Maureen: I’m so excited that not only can people book with you in person here or virtually, but they can book with the other IBCLCs in your clinic.
Heather: We also do accept some insurance directly. A lot of insurance will actually pre-approve you for a certain amount of visits, even prenatally. So please head on over to breastfeedingforbusymoms.com and check out the services tab to see if your insurance is approved. Book with me or one of my IB CLCs, and we would love to work with you.
Maureen: You can do prenatal consults. What else can they do, Heather?
Heather: Well, I often work with people who have supply issues. We’ve got pumping troubleshooting. We’ve got preparing to go back to work, weaning, starting solids. We really cover the entire journey. So if you’re struggling, stop struggling and just schedule with me or somebody on my team at breastfeedingforbusymoms.com.
Maureen: Okay, so let’s hear from Nicole from Texas. Nicole says, Good morning. I have never emailed podcasts, but I had to do so after listening to episode 117 on the way to work this morning. I found the podcast in my early days of breastfeeding and it helped me so much, and I still love listening to it even though these days we feel like pros. I just love gathering new information.
I’m a social worker who recently left child welfare for medical social work, and it’s safe to say I have heard the worst of the worst when it comes to bed sharing, and I thought I would never do it. I’m a first time mom to an eight month old, and we had a couple of nights early on with accidental bed sharing that scared me.
We eventually got him to sleep in a side by side bassinet until the dreaded four month sleep regression. By then, I’d researched the Safe Sleep Seven and discussed with my husband Safe and Planned Bed sharing. He agreed, and we’ve been bed sharing since. Two weeks ago, I started a new job that takes me away from home until right before bedtime, and it kills me not to see my son at his happiest, and that I only get bedtime nursing with him now and sleeping beside him has become the highlight of my day.
Thank you for voicing exactly what I was feeling. I feel like early parenthood is full of loneliness and judgment. Maybe that’s all parenthood. You have made this new mom feel less alone. Thank you, Nicole.
Heather: That, yeah, the bed sharing episode I think hit home for a lot of people.
Maureen: You know, I, it’s not our most listen to episode, but I think it’s our most emailed in about episode.
Heather: I would agree with that. It’s actually pretty up there in the downloads. And it’s a two parter, so, you know, you gotta really be committed to learning about bed sharing if you’re gonna listen to both parts for sure. But yeah, I think that people didn’t realize that they were bed sharing .
Maureen: And, and I think that, you know, we, I mean, we said this in the episode, we have a lot of secret bed sharers because people are afraid of being judged for it and being told that they’re bad parents. And we just wanna make sure that you know that you’re not a bad parent for that.
Heather: Yeah, you’re not a bad parent. And we’ll link that in the show notes if you want to check it out. And hopefully just like Nicole, you feel supported after you listen to it.
Maureen: Quick reminder before we hop into the meat of this episode that we both do private consultations for lactation. And those links are always in our show notes. They’re super easy to find and we would love to help you.
Heather: Okay, let’s meet our guest and talk about bringing the ease into pregnancy and birth because I have questions. Stephanie, welcome to the show. We have some questions for you, lady.
Stephanie King: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I am more than delighted to be here with you guys today.
Maureen: So before we dive into your expertise about allowing your pregnancy and birth to be easier and less stressful, we always love to ask the question about how you became so passionate about what you do. We found most people working in the birth space have one or several defining experiences that make them just like raise their hand for the calling.
So tell us about that for you.
Stephanie King: Yeah, you are absolutely right. I find that all the time as I work with other birth workers, there is something that happened personally, some kind of shift that tells you, you are called to this work, or if you can do it, so can other people. And you feel like this divine calling to tell it to everybody.
And that was certainly my situation. So I have three babies. Live babies, and my first was born by unnecessary cesarean, which I didn’t know at the time, but I was able to look back and say, that should not have happened that way. There was no reason I needed to have a cesarean. So it was kind of this like medical caused inflicted thing that happened to me.
And it was very traumatic. It was sad. It took me a while to bond with my baby. It wasn’t the birth I had envisioned, but on my, like, on my part, I hadn’t done anything to really prepare for it other than I read some birth stories and I really wanted it to be a certain way. And then with my second birth, I had a medicated VBAC.
I wanted to go unmedicated again. I took a birth course. I thought I was really prepared and everything, but I had prodromal labor and some other things. And luckily I had a vaginal birth after cesarean, and I was under the care providers who were very good at helping me achieve that, even with medication and Pitocin and stuff.
But again, I was like, that was amazing, and I still wanna be able to do this unmedicated. That was my goal. That’s not the goal for everybody, but it was mine. And with my third baby, we, I, we were actually overseas at the time, and so we decided to come back to the States and where we were moving, there was like one hospital nearby and they were like, Oh, no, no, no, no.
Like we don’t really care that you had a VBAC, you had a cesarean, so you need to plan on having another cesarean. And I remember just being floored, like, I have worked so hard, there’s no way. And so it was not my first choice, but I found a home birth midwife and I found a doula. And luckily my husband’s father, my mother-in-law had given birth at home before and she was just like, you can, like, yes, you can do it.
I did it. And just having somebody in your life that tells you that, it’s like, okay. Like the wheels start turning, like maybe I can make this happen. And so I, I set that up. I, in my opinion, I set myself up for success. My husband and I got really clear about how we were gonna prepare for this birth, really dedicated to it.
And we kind of are like, Well shoot, if we’re doing it at home, it’s just us. We’d better be prepared. And that birth changed my life. And it wasn’t because I didn’t use medication or it wasn’t because it was at home. It was because I was supported and loved right where I was at. And the people around me believed in me in a way that helped me believe in myself.
And there is power and empowerment and courage and confidence that come with that. And when that baby was born, I, I was just like, Holy cow, I did that. I can’t believe I just did that. And all I could think was, if I can do this, who, like I, my first doctor told me, You’re five feet tall. Like, I’m shorty, right?
You’re five feet tall, you’re size shoe. This is literally a conversation he had with me. Size five and a half shoe and smaller typically have a cesarean birth. What? You’re not big enough. That’s, it’s not gonna work. So I’m going through all of these things that, in my opinion, like were told to me, stacked against me.
And I just remember thinking, if I can do this, anybody can. And they need to know because I cannot believe how this feels for me right now. And that started my journey into teaching childbirth education and getting into doula work. And I did that outta my home for years. And that led to what I do today, which is online childbirth, education.
Heather: Oh my gosh. Well, first of all, you know it’s very easy to laugh at comments like that, that you hear in retrospect. Yes. But when you are the person sitting in that exam room and the doctor is towering over you and they say some bonkers comment like that, it still feels very disempowering and real. And like if you go against that, then you’re gonna be the stupid one.
If something does go wrong and you’re gonna end up taking all the blame and it’s like, wait a minute, let’s just take a 40,000 foot view and really look at that. Show me the foot size research guy. Absolutely.
Stephanie King: Well, at the time I remember thinking my grandmother was 4′ 10″ and a half. It’s very, very important that you get the half in there.
You four 10 and a half. And she did it. She had a vaginal birth. And I’m pretty sure I came from short people in a long line of whatever. Like at some point there were not doctors that could cut people open and take their babies out. So at some point, you know, people existed that were tiny that did this all the way through time.
So what are we talking about? And just like you said, like literally towering over me, right? Cuz I am a shorty. But it is like, you’re like, you ever wanna feel smaller, have somebody say something to that, you know, in a very vulnerable space while you’ve got your pants down for a vaginal exam and everything else.
I’m like, this isn’t gonna work. Yeah, it’s disempowering.
Heather: Wow. And, and also it’s very, it’s gotta be cultural too, because they’re not taking into consideration all the other extremely short cultures all over the world that are not six foot five white Americans. Right. Right. So I’m pretty sure we’re gonna be okay.
But you know, you also talk a lot about finding ease in pregnancy as well as birth. And you know, do we believe, but by we, I mean Maureen and I, do we believe that pregnancy and birth can be easy? Yes. Because we have seen it with our eyes, but everyone has seen those people that are like bouncing around with no morning sickness and six hour labors with no vaginal tears.
And there’s always that part of us if we’ve had that complicated experience that are like, Oh, that could never be me, you know? So do you think that people have control over their experience to a point? Or like what have you seen in your business of literally finding ease for people in pregnancy and birth?
Stephanie King: Yes. I, in fact, I think we have a lot that we can control, and that’s kind of a lie that either we tell ourselves or we’re fed either through societal norms or meeting with a provider who is gonna tell you what is gonna happen to your body and such, instead of living in that body and listening to that body and experiencing it as you go.
So, I mean, of course, we’re all gonna run into things that we don’t have control over with pregnancy and with birth. But there is a lot that we can do in preparation, and it’s so important that we have that knowledge and the experience behind it because then we’re making choices that are gonna be best for our bodies and put us in a place of confidence and empowerment and trusting our intuition, which I don’t think we’re taught enough as women or as a culture or in general.
We, you know, I know I wasn’t. I didn’t trust my intuition at all. I didn’t think I had intuition until it came to birth and I was like, Holy cow. You know, there’s something to this. So yeah, we, we have a lot of control. For example, when we’re talking about like ease of pregnancy and you mentioned nausea.
Now of course there’s all the like remedies and eat the salting crackers and snack during, up during the day. And there’s, you know, wives tales along with good information that’s out there. But if we are given correct information, you know, like understanding nutrition and why vitamins or herbs or, or other things can be good for our bodies and how they can help support us.
And that changes women to woman as well. Like for example, you know, a woman using peppermint for nausea that swears by it, it might not work for another woman. So it’s just one of those things where we have to figure it out for our own bodies but being given that information and the power to say, I have some tools in front of me and now I can try to utilize these things and see how they work for me, even if they don’t work.
Knowing that you’ve done your part to do what you can for your situation. Even there’s even comfort in that. I think it’s the same for birth, right? Like we talk about contractions and you can use the words pain or discomfort or intensity. But when you look back, like if you’ve done something, if you’re prepared to handle those things, if you have tools to try and get through those things and you can look back with them, not as this like crazy, terrible experience, but it was just this hard thing that you worked through to get to the other side and you did all the things that you could to get there.
Does that make sense? Am I making sense as I’m saying this?
Maureen: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think that’s the approach that Heather and I take when we care for people is, is that we’re gonna give you the education and the tools that you can use and they might work for you. And even if they don’t, knowing that you’ve tried everything, at least gives you some, you know, sense of peace.
Like, okay, well I did my best.
Stephanie King: Yeah, and that’s, I mean, that’s the same for women who come along cesarean births even, and maybe you’ve noticed this, I know I’ve seen this as a doula. When you have a mom that has done all the education and she’s worked with her birth partner, so she’s doing all the physical things and she’s prepared her mind, all those positive affirmations, and she’s got an incredible support team.
You know, and you’ve worked through 36 hours of labor and for some reason you need that extra support of this baby needs to come out now, and we’re grateful for medicine in this space. Then a mom can look back and instead of having extreme, you know, post-traumatic stress disorder or postpartum mood disorders that are caused from this traumatic experience, she can look back and process that and say, I actually know that that was meant to happen in this situation, and I can be okay with that because I know I did all of these things.
So it’s still a place of power, even in a situation that is not desired.
Maureen: Absolutely. Well, talking of finding our power, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think people get the most nervous and maybe feel the most disempowered when they’re going from one child to two. And I know that was true for me.
It was terrifying. And I felt like I did not know what was, what was happening, you know? But with your first baby you have no idea what to expect. Even, even if it’s like technically easier, right? It’s like your very first experience. It feels hard. Adding that second baby can be so intimidating. You know, you have new time constraints for self-care that you didn’t have the first time.
You, you know, maybe are still recovering from your first birth. Maybe you’re still, you know, trying to recover sleep and maybe your relationship is strained, all that stuff. What have you experienced with those folks and what can you tell them to help them feel more confident and more empowered growing their family?
Stephanie King: I, I love that you shared that, that was the hard one for you and I, I mean, it’s not wrong if that’s what it is for you. The hard one for me was two to three. And I’ve heard that too. Like when you go from two to three, like you’re outnumbered and then everyone says that three to four and or three, then everybody else after is like so much easier.
And I’m like, well, I never made it there. So I can just tell you that three is hard. My favorite part of two, and this is my personal experience, my favorite part of two was thinking, Oh my gosh, this is gonna be so hard. And then because I had done it before when I had that baby, it was like, oh actually, like I’ve done this before.
I know how to nurse; I can change diapers. I know what nap times look like. The hard part for me with two was once that toddler was old enough to go and wake up baby one, right? Like then we’ve got, then we’ve got a major problem. But I think for women that are feeling intimidated by that, the big thing is having a good support system.
And probably here in the United States, that’s one of the harder things for us to come by. It’s just societally we’re like, Oh, well, you know, you’ve had another baby. Get back to whatever normal looks like for you. Even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, like, we expect you to be cooking dinner in a couple of weeks and your house should be clean and you should be inviting people over to see your children.
And we just expect so much. And so very little time is taken to care for, for mom and baby afterwards. So when possible, you know, even if you don’t have immediate support nearby, setting up a meal train, being involved with, if you have a religious organization nearby your church if there’s a mom’s group that you can get in touch with some kind of community thing or La Leche League.
La Leche League is like free meetings all over the place with breastfeeding moms. So those are gonna be moms that have tiny children just like you. It builds community and I think community is where things become really hard if you don’t have a good base for that. And we saw that a lot with 2020 and everything that that brought. It broke some women in some really hard ways.
You know, even my sister was pregnant during this time. And I just remember thinking like, what a hard thing for these women to go through. And it’s because you’re isolated and you don’t have this community. So, and you’ll have to tell me if that is the case for you. Like what got you through that? What made you feel like you could do that one to two transition when you did feel so overwhelmed and tired and all of that?
Cuz community is the big thing that comes to mind for me. But I’d love to hear from you too.
Heather: We’re staring at each other right now.
Maureen: I was just thinking I did; I did have a pandemic baby. Did you? It did really suck. Yeah. Yeah. I, I mean, I think knowing what to expect was the most helpful thing because I was totally blindsided by my first experience with a newborn.
But man, I don’t know. My biggest struggle is that, well, Heather and I, our kids have a similar age gap. My kids are five years apart. Mm-hmm. So my older son has just kind of been like, in, hi, this like rogue solo agent thing. While I’m like, when I was like tied down with the newborn, I’m like, Oh my God, what did you just do?
You’re fully capable of all of this stuff that I can’t see happening.
Heather: Yeah, I mean, for me, I think that, I mean, we only have two kids each. Yeah. So we’ve never gone from two to three.
Maureen: And I, I am never going to.
Heather: But, you know, for, I had a c-section with my first, because he was breach and he was a late pretermer, so he was like a whole bag of difficult. And so with my daughter, I was a midwife having her.
So I felt a lot of like, pressure to do a good job with birth, but also I had never labored. So I, I did not have necessarily that intuition inside of myself that I could do it. Like I, I knew other people could do it because I’ve delivered babies. You know, I’ve watched it happen, you know, people get through it all the time and, you know, they’re not always screaming like they do on the movies.
And I’m like, but I was so nervous I was gonna be that midwife that was like, Give me the epidural at one centimeter. You know? And you know, at some point you just have to own your own experience and not try to compare yourself to other people. And I did end up V-BACing I did have an epidural, and I think if I got pregnant again, I would wanna go with a Homebirth and probably have Maureen deliver my baby and try to do it natural, because it’s like, once you’ve already traveled those roads, you can do it more confidently.
But if you’re a first timer, this is my question for you also. If you’re a first time parent and you don’t, you’ve never traveled those roads of labor and you don’t know how you’re gonna react, and you’re looking for confidence from other people, how do people find, this confidence within themselves to achieve these things that they’ve never done before?
And how do you speak to those first time parents?
Stephanie King: Yeah, I think you touched on it right with that last sentence you said, you know, from other people. And I think, I think that’s huge. Surrounding yourself with other women who have already done it. You know, for myself, I was really lucky to have, like I had mentioned, a mother law in-law in my life who I really love, who I, you know, I know that’s not the case for everybody, but having somebody nearby you that has been there before, and I think that’s like in everything in life, you’re just looking for somebody who’s a couple of steps ahead of you on the path.
I do the same thing with my business. I do the same thing with parenting. You know, I’m just hitting those teenage years right now and I’m like, Okay, where’s the person that’s got a teenager just a couple years ahead of me? Like, tell me I’m gonna be okay. What do I need to do? How do I talk to my kid? And I think if we, I, everybody does that.
And the more that we’re looking for those positive influences where we can kind of like latch onto somebody or, or you just see something positive that they’re doing. Or like, I, I like the way that this sounds or that looks in real time. And then asking lots and lots of questions. I, we do this when we’re young.
I think that should extend into adulthood. I don’t think it’s anything ever that needs to be shamed or you should be concerned about. Like, ask questions. And if you’re not getting good responses or if somebody is shaming you in asking a question, that’s the wrong person. Go find somebody else. You know?
Heather: Oh yeah. And can I quickly call out our OB system for prenatals? Because I think most people, when they get pregnant for the first time, they are relying on those prenatal OB visits for all of the education. Just 15 minutes. Yep. If, if you get 15. Yeah. And so the, the thing that I usually hear from my patients is, Oh my God, like, why do I even go to my prenatal visits?
Like, they didn’t even touch me. They didn’t listen to the baby this time, like I got no education. And so they start to realize, they think it’s gonna come, you know, as they get more and more pregnant. But then at 36 weeks, when you have your long visit, quote unquote, where you talk about labor and it’s still 10 minutes long.
Yeah, That’s when people call me and they’re like, Okay, hold on. Like time is ticking on and I need someone to actually tell me. And it’s such a bummer because it’s like this secret that no one really talks about it. It’s like, wait a minute, we can’t be relying on physicians and other providers to spend their clinic time educating us when really the way I think it’s supposed to be is how it was originally 10,000 years ago where we all lived in communities and you had that person sitting right next to you who just gave birth a month ago, and they look at you and they go, you’ll be fine.
Yeah. Here’s how you do it or let me help you. So, yeah.
Stephanie King: Well, and seeing somebody in that situation and hearing that, it’s like, you believe it cuz they did it. You have the proof in front of you, like, you’re gonna be fine. We need that. And I’m with you. You know, the other side of that is as a birth educator, I remember going into OB offices and bringing my cards and my pamphlets and I was like, so excited.
You know, like, I’m gonna help women prepare for this experience. And you’re right, the education doesn’t happen in the office and they’re not interested in them getting the education from other people outside of the office. And I’m like, how is that? Yes. If you’re not gonna provide it, let them get it somewhere else.
Maureen: And like, I exclusively provide home birth services, you know, and I, I spend at least like 12 hours with people prenatally and I’m still like, Can you please take a childbirth education course? Mm-hmm. Yeah. There are free ones on, there’s so many online. Please take that because I’m gonna forget to tell you something.
It’s not enough time.
Heather: Mm-hmm. And I think this is probably why all of the research points towards the benefits of having doulas, because the research really shows us that having anyone with you during labor and birth results in more vaginal deliveries and less postpartum depression. Yeah. Period. It doesn’t even matter if they’re trained just as long as a person doesn’t feel completely alone.
Right. Which it’s like, imagine if they were trained mm-hmm and imagine if everyone did get high quality childbirth education and postpartum support. It’s like the world, the, the top of the world would just blow open with possibilities. Right.
Maureen: I, I really wish that, you know, you had mentioned like, you know, ancient humans and this was all much more normal.
They probably also saw births. Mm-hmm. You know, and I, I was super lucky when I was like eight weeks pregnant to be able to go to a friend’s birth with her and be one of her support people. And I was like, that’s probably what changed my whole outlook on it and made me feel like I could do it. And I wish that everybody who like we could all be exposed to those kind of experiences to know that it’s like this is the normal experience and this is just what people do. And you know, birthing is, is totally normal daily stuff.
Heather: Yeah. Well and also with the pandemic now they’re like only two people in the birth room at a time.
And it’s like by controlling the amount of people that can see birth, they’ve done a pretty good job of isolating the experience so they can control the narrative a little bit. I’ve never thought about that before, but that is the truth.
Stephanie King: It really is. And as, as you’re talking about that and or even like the people that are in the birth space, you know, the people in there matter cuz you can have nurses and doctors and all of those other people, but it’s, there’s an energy to birth and there’s an energy that people bring with them into every space.
But when you are in that vulnerable, dreamlike state of birth, you feel all of it and you feel it times 10. And so having people in your birth space even that are just supportive, like you said, just in the space, holding space, standing next to you, holding your hand, like believing in you, that makes a huge difference.
But when you, and when you bring in those people that shouldn’t be there, like sometimes women love to bring their moms even though they know like, this is not the person that should be in this space. You know what I mean? They feel like they have some obligation to have somebody that they’re not comfortable having in their space there in the most vulnerable time of their life. That can actually send things the other way.
You know? So just like you’re talking about, even just saying you can only have two, it’s like, Ooh, what am I getting into? Like, you’re walking into this space feeling like closed off, defensive, a little scared, nervous. Instead of like, Oh yeah, bring who you want, or I’ll come to your home, or, It’s just a completely, It changes, it changes you and your body and how your body reacts to pregnancy and birth.
Heather: I think so many people are gonna resonate with what you just said, and they’re like scratching out their list of people that they’re gonna invite to their birth right now. And they’re like, I need to rewrite. I hope so. But yeah, for sure though. And we are gonna take a quick break to thank some sponsors, but when we come back we’re gonna ask Stephanie about tangible and tactical ways to actually prepare for your pregnancy and birth.
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Heather: Oh, you’re allowed to look good and feel good about yourself while wearing a nursing bra?
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Heather: Amazing. I’m so glad a company has finally realized that a D Cup is not a large.
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Heather: Oh, thank you so much. Dairy Fairy.
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Heather: And you know how we feel about that.
Maureen: If you want to have your very own Ceres Chiller, please go to the link in our show notes and use code MILKMINUTE15 at checkout.
Heather: That’s MILKMINUTE15 for 15% off your Ceres Chill products. Enjoy.
Maureen: All right, welcome back everybody. So let’s get right back into it. Stephanie, in your opinion, if you had to, we’re gonna make you, assign percentages to pregnancy and birth preparation, like physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, whatever. How, how would that layout look? You know, 15%, What’s, what’s 75%?
What’s going on?
Stephanie King: Okay, so as I’m thinking about this, this is a tricky one for me, and I think what it comes to, I know you want an answer, so I’m gonna give you my best attempt at an answer for percentages here. But I think it really depends on you. So like, when I meet with a mom, even as a doula, or I’m talking with somebody one on one, I’m trying to get to know them.
Like, Yes, tell me all about your pregnancy. Tell me about, you know, how many centimeters you were dilated at your last appointment and all that stuff. That’s great information. That’s not necessarily what I’m looking for as to how I’m gonna help support you during this process.
So I like to use things like, why don’t you take the enneagram test? Why don’t we talk about your love languages? Tell me what works for you, because that’s gonna tell me how you need to prepare. Now on that other side of things, there is a physical preparation that happens. I’m leaning towards, and this is my own personal thing, like 50% physical preparation.
You have to have the knowledge behind that, like how to physically prepare, and then you have to be able to do it. For example, If you know you’re planning on either giving birth unmedicated or say that you’re choosing to use an epidural, but the end goal is to go as long as possible so we have the least amount of intervention so we don’t end up with a cesarean birth, we want vaginal birth.
Then there’s some things that we’ve gotta do to prepare our mind and body for that. One of the things that drives me nuts actually, OBs that are like, Okay, yeah, you’re planning to get the epidural. Sounds good. See you then. Okay, timeout. You didn’t tell mom that she’s gotta come in four centimeters in labor, which means she’s been working through contractions before then.
You didn’t give her any tools for that. That’s not fair. So it’s really important that mom’s understand even if you plan to get an epidural or some kind of pain medication along the way, you have to know how to work with your body through contractions. And I mean, you don’t have to, but you’re gonna be a heck of a lot more comfortable if you do.
And so, understanding how to practice things like relaxation and not just by yourself. If your birth partner is gonna be there and you guys wanna form this bond and he wants to be able to support you during this time, you’re gonna have to work together. You know, meditation practice, if that’s your thing.
Some hands on support. Again, if your birth partner’s gonna be the one touching you during that time. If the first time that your husband or spouse or birth partner is touching you to be able to support you during labor, is in labor during a contraction, the likelihood of that feeling really good for you is like 0%.
Like it’s so low because they, you guys haven’t had the practice and the touch is gonna feel foreign. So figuring out what mom needs is really important. Understanding what has to happen prior to, and then practicing along the way is gonna be really important. The other side of this, I’d say like if I could just do the 50 50, it would be physical, mental, but of course there’s some emotional and spiritual things that happen along with that.
I think they’re all intertwined, which is why it makes a little tricky for me. But the mental side of things, when you’re in labor and you’re in that dreamlike state, you have a, you’re living an entirely different world in your head. So your body is doing things and you are working with that, and you are focused on that.
You are also in a completely different mental space. And so preparing your mental space, and that’s where things like, and I think this is where they get intertwined, things like that, emotional and spiritual stuff kind of mix into that mental space. Because while you’re in that dreamlike state, maybe you’re saying things like your mantras or your positive affirmations, I can do anything for a minute, or my cervix is opening with this contraction.
Or you’re focusing on your breath and you’re telling yourself, I’m gonna breathe deep three times, and by the time I get to that third one, I’m gonna feel this contraction release, and then I’m gonna let it all go and I’m gonna breathe deep and let it out. So I think all of that is intertwined, but there is a huge amount of physical and mental work that needs to happen, not just knowledge that you know, but work in preparation that needs to happen before you get there to make it successful for you.
Heather: You know what? I think that’s actually gonna make people feel a lot better, because if you were about to say 95% emotional, everyone might just turn the podcast off and walk away because it feels, you know, especially with the hormones of pregnancy and everything, and it’s like, that’s the part that’s kind of hard to get a handle on sometimes.
But I really think you’re right. Actually, when I’m, when I’m listening to you, I’m like, Yeah, 50% physical sounds about right. And luckily for us, that’s a lot of the stuff we can control. Right. And the, I did wanna ask you though, because I’ve seen this, and I think Maureen would say the same, especially when you have a patient who’s like in really prodromal labor, I mean like a week of prodromal labor, sometimes I swear they need a good cry because they are hanging onto something.
It’s either trauma from a past birth or they’re fighting with their partner or you know, something emotional or spiritual is holding them back and they have this huge breakdown and then labor starts and then we’re off. And have you seen that?
Maureen: Oh yeah lots of times for sure.
Stephanie King: Yeah, I, I’ve totally seen that as well. I’ve experienced that. My last birth, that baby, my final one came 41 weeks to the day and I don’t know exactly, I actually think it had to do. I think there’s so much more involved too. We had a neighbor that we were living on an air force base because we were military and there was a neighbor next to us that I think had he heard the noises, I was making, no joke, cuz I had the window open.
4:00 AM as I’m birthing my baby. I think he would’ve called security forces down. Like I clearly remember having that thought of like, that guy had to not be there. Like there were just a couple of things that, So yeah, and, and I mean that’s like one of many, many situations but, or even just, you’ll have women that are in prodromal labor and the second that they say out loud like, this is never gonna happen or, you know, whatever they’re holding onto, just like you said and it’s like, boom, we just went from like sporadic contractions to every four minutes and it’s go time.
So yeah, I think a hundred percent that’s very real.
Heather: Yeah. But that’s also where having a birth coach comes in handy. And also the education beforehand to know that that’s a possibility that that could happen. That way when your birth coach is like Heather, I think we need to have a good cry because you know, let’s, let’s talk out loud about this fear that we’re having, that it’s not like foreign, it’s not intrusive.
It’s like, oh yeah, this is the thing happening that we talked about, and you’re gonna be less likely to resist walking that path with somebody else and trusting that person. So this has been good. I’m enjoying this by the way.
Maureen: Absolutely. Okay. Well I think we need to get down to some, like to do list actionable items for people that they can just like make their list and get to it. Love. What would you say are the top three things that people need to have an easy pregnancy?
Stephanie King: Okay. These are my things. I think it’s education, nutrition, and exercise.
And that might throw some people off. Those are my personal opinion from what I’ve seen. I think you need to have some knowledge behind it. What do I need to know to make these things a little easier? I think nutrition is huge. It’s something that we probably don’t spend enough time talking about.
And I never want anybody to feel shamed in talking about nutrition because it can be, it’s kind of a trigger word for a lot of women because of dieting and exercise, and we’re gaining weight during pregnancy and all of that. But understanding which nutrients we really need. Understanding that a high protein, well balanced diet with enough water and a really good prenatal can actually make the difference for you being low risk or ending up with something like preeclampsia.
And then as far as exercise, that is not as scary as it sounds. You know, I, I kind of preach these three exercises that I think are super important for every woman to be doing in pregnancy. And you guys maybe have your own or maybe agree with some of these, but you know, the forward leaning inversion, I think is huge.
Because it’s gonna help with position of baby, which is gonna make mom more comfortable. And I believe if baby’s in a better position and you’re more comfortable, that’s an easier pregnancy. Pelvic tilts I think are super important cuz it’s strengthening and and using the right muscles that are gonna be used during labor, but it’s also supporting your belly as it grows.
And muscles that are changing and need a little bit more support as the baby grows, belly grows, you’ve got more blood volume, all of that. And then the squat. And of course this can be modified for moms who have hemorrhoids or pain in the knee or the ankle or something like that. But chances are at some point during your labor, squatting is gonna either feel good or you’ll be doing it to push.
And the more comfortable that you can be in that position for a long amount of time, and I’m not talking up and down squats, like weighted squats or anything like that. It’s like sitting in a squatted position like little kids do all the time. You watch a one year old squat down to play with toys, that’s the squat you’re looking for because it stretches the perineum, it’s gonna shorten the vaginal canal area.
It supports everything. It strengthens and lengthens muscles in the legs that are gonna help you be in an easier squat position so that you’re comfortable during that pushing time. Cuz we all know, like you can be squatting for a couple hours during labor and it can be really uncomfortable. I remember shaking my legs out or stretching or people massaging.
And so if we’ve got those things, those that, that education, nutrition, and exercise, if you set yourself up for success during pregnancy with those simple, basic things that honestly sound too easy to let go of sometimes or to feel like I should be doing this then it, it really can lead to an easier pregnancy.
Maureen: Yeah. You know, one of my favorite exercise things to do, especially when I’m working with clients who are like, I’m so busy, I’m too busy to exercise. If they have stairs in their house, I’m like, I know you’re going up those 20 times a day cuz you’re doing too many chores. So how about when you go up them, you do the silly walk.
Do, do them silly, go up them sideways one way and down sideways the other way and take them two stairs at a time. And it does that nice big pelvic stretch. And actually like, you get some of the same motions as squatting, you know? Yeah. You, you like, it’s great for positioning baby, and I’m like, and you’re doing all the stuff you would’ve done anyway.
Doesn’t take any extra time, but you are actually doing something beneficial for yourself.
Stephanie King: I love that. I’m gonna use that.
Heather: Yeah, totally. And also like, if you can’t find time to do squats now, guess what you’re gonna be doing when you have a little kid all day long? Squatting. Oh my gosh. You’re gonna be squatting down to play with toys.
You’re gonna be squatting to change diapers on the floor because you cannot make the trek to the changing table, which you put on the second story of your house. Yeah.
Maureen: Yeah. Or your baby’s in the alligator phase where they absolutely will not be put on the changing table.
Heather: Exactly. So I think that’s, that’s good.
That’s really good stuff. And I think people are taking notes right now, by the way, while they’re listening or they’re in the shower, like trying to hurry up so they can get out and write this down. But how about the top three things that people would need to have an easy birth? Is it the same or would you edit those a little bit?
Stephanie King: I’m gonna edit them a little bit. First of all, and I, this isn’t like, not part of the top three, but just as like a blanket statement, you need to know what you want. So I love for people to like, Oh, I, I just, I, before I get into like my crazy flu, flu, I’m not gonna do that. I, I want people to like stop for a second and walk themselves through the first contraction all the way through to giving birth.
Where are you? What does it look like? What are you doing for comfort? Who’s with you? Are the lights dim? Walk yourself through it and see if you can envision what that looks like to you. If you’re giving birth in a hospital, but in your vision, like you never make it to the hospital, you know, that’s something to consider.
Why is that? Our minds are very, very strong and suggestive, and so it’s, I think it’s really important to know what you want, but my top three are, number one, you need a supportive birth team. Because you can’t, even with all of your best intentions and the best education and all of your practice, if your birth team is not on the same page, they can really dictate where that birth is gonna go.
And it can be completely opposite from what your goal is. The birth team starts with your provider. You have to have a supportive provider. And I know it is hard to do, but you have to interview more than one. You have to even if you love your OB and you’ve been with him forever and your mom gave birth with him, and you know, they’re just part of the family.
See what it feels like talking to one other person, just one, and see how that feels. The second thing is education. I mean, so that’s kind of part of that pregnancy thing, but you have to have the knowledge because once you’ve got your supportive team, what are they supporting you for? And then you have to know how to get there.
So you’ve gotta have that education and knowledge. And the third thing is to do the work. You have to put in the work. You can’t just read about it and listen to all the podcasts and have good intentions. If you are not prepared physically and mentally, if you have not done those things, then you’re gonna find yourself in a position when it’s go time where you’re like, Oh shoot, I thought I would know how to do this.
And I’ll tell you just a short story for myself. When I became a doula, the very first birth I attended, cuz I’m like, I wanna see if this is really for me, if I should be in this space. I did it completely for free and I had no training. I had had three prior births and I was a birth educator, so I knew exactly what was supposed to happen and how it all worked. When I was in that birth space with that mom though, I thought because I had given birth before, cuz I was so close to that, that I would know exactly what she needed and how to do it.
And I didn’t. And I was so grateful I had a couple tools that I knew, you know, I brought some tennis balls and I knew about counter pressure and things, but I stood there like, you are not ready for this cuz you didn’t put in the work. And I had to get myself educated and I had to practice. And now, and you guys may relate to this as well.
Now as a birth worker, now I’m intuitive. Now I do know what she needs, but it’s, it’s because I have practice.
Maureen: Absolutely. Yeah. Some, and you know, even still, sometimes I walk into a birth space and I’m like, I’ve never seen that before. Okay. Guess I have to figure something out.
Heather: Phone a friend. Yeah. All the midwives that I know, they work together.
You know, just even like calling after a 36 hour birth where you haven’t slept and you’re like, I’m pretty sure this is what’s going on, but let me run this by you. And the other midwife who has had a good night’s sleep is like, Oh no, she has a fever because you gave her meso. It’s not because she has an infection.
Maureen: I knew you were gonna say that one, Heather.
Heather: I called you about that. You’re like, Thanks, we’re gonna stop freaking out now.
Bye. But yeah, I think that’s so true and I think that information is great. And you know what? I wish that I had had you as a childbirth educator for myself, even though I was a midwife for my second baby. Because if you had asked me to envision my birth, I would’ve been the one that didn’t make it to the hospital.
Mm-hmm. In my, in my mental vision. And I probably should have leaned into that a little bit more. And you know, I, I’m like now in retrospect, wishing I could be the one taking notes right now listening to this who’s still pregnant. Like I could do it again.
Stephanie King: That’s awesome. And I can relate. I’ve been there as well, so we get there how we get there.
Heather: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, about 25% of our listeners are actually healthcare workers who also work with pregnancy, birth, lactation. So what would you like to tell the healthcare workers listening to this right now about the importance of childbirth education and doula services?
Stephanie King: Yeah, I think, I would hope that the birth workers that have been with women and who have asked, or who understand that these women have been through some kind of childbirth education, have seen the fruits of that on the other side which tends to look like a mom who, which maybe sometimes they don’t like it, right?
Cuz she’s a little more what, how do I wanna say it? Attentive or what’s the word I’m looking for? Like outspoken. Assertive. Assertive. That’s it. That was the word. Yeah. Yeah. She, she tends to be more assertive and so sometimes that can be off putting. And so maybe they relate that with childbirth education, but she knows what she wants.
She usually comes in with a birth plan. But her births also tend to go a little smoother. She waits longer for the epidural, or she has that vaginal birth, unmedicated. It looks different to them. And I know because I’ve spoken with them. There’s a lot of labor and delivery nurses who have not had children and see the difference between moms who are educated and choose to have less medication or go unmedicated versus the mom that comes in unprepared and gets the epidural early and is unsatisfied with her birth.
And I don’t mean to like just put those into two categories cuz we all know that there’s a lot of different things that can happen during birth. So I’m just on a broad spectrum here. But those labor and delivery nurses are like, hmm. I want the birth like that. I wanna feel like that afterwards. I wanna, you know, hold my baby being excited about my experience and feel empowered and confident.
So I would hope that they’re seeing some of that already. But I think as healthcare workers, you know, it shouldn’t necessarily be the job to rush in and try and kind of overtake everything that like a woman’s body autonomy. And this experience for her should really be hers. And our job is kind of to stand there as I mean, sentinels is kind of what comes to mind, like the word, but like you’re standing as this like strong rock and you are there to support.
But it’s not our job to like always be there to rescue. Just in the case where there’s like life threatening emergencies or like something really needs to happen. So the other side of that is women who are educated tend to choose more natural things. And again, whatever a mom chooses that’s great, as long as she has the knowledge behind it, she can make an informed decision, benefits, risks, alternatives, all that kind of stuff.
But with that, especially when we’re talking about things like lactation and such, or bonding postpartum or postpartum depression, things that are gonna be on their radar, those things are much less, they are much softer with moms who have control over their birth space and over their bodies during that time.
And then along with that, like I remember early on when I started teaching birth classes and I would go around from birth center to birth center and I’d present my classes and say, you know, come join me. I remember talking with a couple birth centers who they started, they didn’t require at first women to take birth classes, but they were noticing that the amount of transfers was pretty high.
And that once they did start requiring a really good birth class where women became educated and they figured out how to work with their bodies and all that that those numbers dropped. And so it became a requirement across the board. And I mean, like drastically. And I, I wish I had the percentages with me, but it was not just one birth center that was saying this, like, the education matters for mom and for the facility.
Heather: That’s awesome. And I’m telling you right now, the jury’s still out on a third baby for me, but if I decide to go for it, I will do a childbirth education class. Okay. I’ll take your class online. I will give it to you. Oh. Really? Yes. Thank you. That is so nice. I, I absolutely would. I mean, I don’t care how much education I have.
Sometimes the overeducated people are the worst because you think you know everything and then you get there and you’re like, I know nothing. And you’re ripping the curtain.
Maureen: It’s hard going into it, right? You’re like, I know every single thing that could possibly go wrong. But I actually need to know about what’s gonna go, right?
Heather: Yeah. Oh, good point, Maureen. Good.
Stephanie King: Funny. When we started, we tried for four and a half years. Our first three were like pregnant right away. For four and a half years we tried, we were not able to get pregnant again. But during that time, I had to pull away from, and nothing personal, but I had to pull away from women who were giving birth in the hospitals because as a doula or as you know, a birth worker in a hospital setting, you see things that are happening that the mom doesn’t.
And it was traumatic for me. I thought, I can’t be so close to this. I have to see things that are going right. So I would only take out of hospital births because of how the women were treated and because how they trusted their bodies. So I, there’s something really big to that, especially with being a birth worker.
I can’t agree more.
Maureen: Yeah. Which it’s important to protect yourself as a birth worker. That happens a lot to people.
Heather: That is a whole other podcast actually. We’re gonna schedule with you for six months from now to talk about birth worker trauma and how to protect yourself. Okay. I love it. But what would you, what is the one thing that you want our listeners to remember today from this episode?
Can you leave us with a little bit of Stephanie inspiration?
Stephanie King: Yeah. If I can do it, so can you, And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, there’s nothing special about me or any other woman that walks through this, this part of pregnancy and birth and motherhood that wouldn’t wanna shout out from the rooftops.
Like, if I can do this, so can you. So I want everybody listening to trust themselves, to trust the process, to believe that you can be empowered and confident and have a birth, a pregnancy, and a birth that you look back with joy and you absolutely love and wanna share with the world. You can have that.
Maureen: Oh, I love that. That was perfect. Thank you.
Heather: That gave me all the feels.
Maureen: Okay. So where can our listeners find you to take your amazing classes or to listen to your podcast or all of that?
Stephanie King: Sure. You can find me at myessentialbirth.com. There’s a bunch of free downloads and stuff that are on there. But if you want to, you can just click the get started and enroll in the birth course.
There’s like a three pay option and a pay all at once. It’s we, I’ve kept the price low so that anybody can join cuz birth education is a big thing to me. You can listen to my own podcast. It’s pregnancy and birth made easy and that’s anywhere that you listen to podcasts. I am @myessentialbirth on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
So anywhere else is my essential birth.
Heather: That’s awesome. And all of that will be linked in the show notes for easy access to anyone listening right now. And we highly encourage you to go check out Stephanie’s work. It’s very important and we are so happy to highlight all of her hard work that she does for all of you today.
Stephanie, thank you so much. We hope you have a great rest of your day and it’s been such a pleasure talking with you and just getting to know you a little bit. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Stephanie King: Thank you. This has been really fun.
Heather: I tell all my patients who are brand new parents to put a list of soothing techniques on the refrigerator so they can both remember what they’ve already tried for soothing baby.
Maureen: I like to put a Happi Tummi on that list. It’s a natural herbal wrap that soothes and relieves pain instantly, and it’s so fuzzy.
Heather: It’s so great. It helps baby sleep at night, resolves colic, gas or constipation. And it’s great because it has a little cute animal on the front for when they’re doing tummy time, which provides gentle pressure to help them get their toots out.
Maureen: And you know what? They’re not just for babies. They have them for teens and adults too.
Heather: Mm. So if you’re struggling with those period pains, get your herbal, warm, Happi Tummi wrap today by going to HappiTummi.com. And if you love us, enter promo code MILKMINUTE10 for 10% off.
Maureen: That’s MILKMINUTE10 for 10% off your Happi Tummi.
Heather: Thank you so much for supporting the show.
Oh man. I actually wasn’t sure what to expect when we were gonna interview Stephanie. I was like, we’re gonna, I don’t know, this could go one way or the other with like putting ease back into pregnancy, and birth. I was like, I really hope this doesn’t take a hard left into toxic positivity. And it absolutely didn’t.
Maureen: It didn’t, it was perfect. I think that her message is amazing and something that everybody planning to have kids really needs to hear. Yeah.
Heather: Yeah, I learned a lot. You know, just with the way that I’m doing my prenatals with breastfeeding and I just, I’m really excited actually that Stephanie exists, and I’m so happy to be able to share her stuff on the show.
And we hope you enjoyed it too. Send us an email if you’ve taken her class, and absolutely how it went for you and.
Maureen: Or if we inspired you to take her class, we’d love to hear that.
Heather: Or tell us about who you scratched off on your list of people that are allowed in the birth room.
Maureen: Okay. I, I have to tell you what I tell people now in prenatals when they ask like, who can come?
I’m like, anybody you want can come to your birth, but I recommend there’s somebody that you could poop in front of and then ask to leave randomly, and they would be fine with all that. Mm-hmm. And they’re like, Huh? I’m like, Yeah, really think that through.
Heather: Yeah. If you don’t have that person in your life, you better go get ’em.
Maureen: If that’s not your mother-in-law, then don’t invite her.
Heather: Yeah, for sure. Well, I had a lot of fun with that interview. That was really cool. I’m gonna be thinking about everything we talked about for probably a little bit after we hang up here. Yeah. Especially as you’re like, Ooh, number three, question mark?
Question mark. Always the question mark. But let’s do an award before we leave. Okay. I’m excited. I love awards, you guys. Today’s award is awesome. So today’s award goes to Andie Ward. Oh, yay. Andie, listen to this one. Andie says, Heather and Maureen, wanted to share that I’m pregnant and I’m so excited to go on this nursing journey again. Thank you both for your instrumental help managing fertility drugs while continuing to nurse.
Have a few awesome stories as we just returned from vacation in New Mexico. Did you hear about the 150 stranded people in Carlsbad Caverns due to flash flooding? Yours truly, my husband and our two year old were three of those people. Oh my God. Thank goodness for breast milk while stuck in there for eight hours.
Nursing on a tram tour, the airport, in a cave, on the plane, and everywhere in between was liberating. And my husband is the one who encouraged me to do so when our son was begging for it in public. Excited to try the Evivo and Ceres Chill this next round for Baby Girl due next March. Thanks again, Andie.
Maureen: Oh, Andie, we’re so excited! Also, what a badass, crazy turn of what? Right? That’s wild.
Heather: You know, this just gives a quick nod to, to breastfeeding as far as like emergency situations. Absolutely. It’s clean, it’s available, it’s already warm. Even when you’re in a cave.
Maureen: Yeah. It’s super wild. That’s incredible. You are such a strong person, Andie.
Heather: Yeah. That’s so cool. So what award should we give Andie today?
Maureen: Hmm. Let’s give her you know, the Incredible Go Bag Award because your milk bags are just ready to go for those emergencies.
Heather: I love it. The Incredible Go Bag Award. And you can see Andie’s picture of her nursing in the cave on our Instagram stories for the day that this published, and we always keep it in our highlights I think. So anyway, we can go flip through if you need some inspiration and see all of our previous awards. And Andie, thank you also for being a patron. We appreciate all of your support and we just love you. So sending you all kinds of love and stay out of caves. Okay?
Maureen: And before we go, I just wanted to read a quick Apple review cuz we love them. We read them all. Thank you all for leaving them. This one is from AJ Future and they say I feel like I have two more friends. I’m an obsessive Googler with a solid science and medical understanding, but I still learn so much from this podcast. Listening to Heather and Maureen has me feeling like I’m hanging out with two super knowledgeable mom friends and I love it.
Great work gals. Keep it up.
Heather: Oh, thanks aj future. That is so awesome. And, you know, these reviews do help us and they make our day if nothing else. And we might just keep doing this for seven more years if we keep getting these sweet five star reviews. Absolutely. All right everyone. Well, that’s it for us today.
Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of the Milk Minute podcast.
Maureen: How we change this big, crazy system that is not built to support you in your lactation journey is by educating ourselves, our friends, our family, and everybody around us.
Heather: And sharing our new educational resources with others like we did today with Stephanie’s class.
Maureen: And if you found value in today’s episode or any of the other episodes that we’ve made you can support us on Patreon.
Heather: Our VIP patrons get access to episodes early and ad free a week before everybody else and our top tier patrons even get to hang out with us, live on Zoom and ask us questions anytime in our message board.
And you get first pick for awards and questions on the podcast.
Maureen: And just so much more really. So why don’t you guys go check it out and join us there.
Heather: It’s patreon.com/MilkMinutePodcast. All right. That’s all for today. Bye bye bye.