Change Birth, Change the World
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In this episode, a subject very dear to Anna’s heart: birth stories and experiences. Most people experience birth in a really intense haze of emotion and complexity and as a culture we really fail a lot of the time to handle that well. Birth is, for most of us, a day or two of time, but it’s a lot. Content warning on this episode for talk of birth trauma and obstetric violence, and also we give several f*cks and do not censor the audio, so just a head’s up on that, too.
What we’re talking about today is some of that birth experience Stuff, about how that influences the lives of our families and communities, and some of the really egregious disparities out there in the world of childbirth. We start by sharing our experiences a little to give you some background on us and how we approached things when our babies were born.
Beans is adjusting really well to occasional daycare! Anna loves The Workaround!
Chips is super jazzed about Halloween!
Resources & Information
Anna’s “doula hat on” birth planning resources:
Sources on Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes:
Sara: 00:00 Hey pals, it's Sara. Just wanted to let you know before we start the episode we talk a little bit about birth trauma and obstetric violence and we mentioned infant mortality a little bit in this episode. We also have a lot of swears in this one so because we both got pretty het up about the topic so. We love you a lot, and talk to you in just a minute.
music: 00:21 [music begins]
Sara: 00:38 This is the Parent Rap, a show about inexpert parenting and trying to raise good humans in a complicated world. I'm Sara, your source for the latest links on the internet that made me think of you born and raised and planning to stay in Oklahoma.
Anna: 00:50 I'm Anna, a writer, former doula and prenatal educator, current virtual assistant and general supportive type in Toronto, Canada. Ta-da!
Sara: 00:57 Ta-da!
Anna: 00:57 Um, we are back, we're now coming off of the end of, for listeners our education two-parter, which was intense and we are going to probably get a little heavy tonight, today, this time also because we're going to talk about birth stories and birth experiences. So we're going to start a little bit with our own experiences. But then I want to talk, put on my doula hat a little bit and talk about birth planning and also a big, one of my big social justice bugaboos, which is racial birth disparity, which is pretty intense.
Sara: 01:36 Huge.
Anna: 01:36 So yeah. Yeah. But I personally just don't think you can really talk about birth experience without getting into the fact that it can be so different for different kinds of people. So yup. That's what we're going to do.
Sara: 01:48 I had my kid [chuckle] uh, no, I had my kid in a hospital, um, which was not my initial thought. My, I don't like hospitals and I don't like being in hospitals and I don't like being around them. But to, to start, why don't we just start off real personal. So I had a miscarriage, uh, the year before I got pregnant with Chips, kind of a late term miscarriage. And so my doctor put me as a high risk for continuing. I don't know if that was accurate or if it was just a one time thing, but I did not qualify to do a lot of the low intervention, kind of-- like there was, there is in my town, there are a couple of like more doula-y birth center-y options. Not a ton but a few. But I, because I was considered a high risk pregnancy was not going to be able to do those or, or at least not have it be affordable for me in any way, which was fine. Like, my doctor is fine and that's fine. So because I was high risk, I had a lot of ultrasounds and a lot of doctor visits and they nailed down the, the timing pretty well to where on Chips's due date. I received a notice from my doctor who was out of town on that day, which sucked, that I had a week to have the kid and if I didn't have her in a week then uh, they were gonna induce because since it was a high risk pregnancy, they didn't want to risk anything going wrong. Um, didn't want to leave her in there too long. I did all the things you're supposed to do. Ate spicy food, had sex, walked around, which I hated. Um, didn't help, didn't make any difference at all. And so I was induced the, I'll cut out as much of this detail as doesn't end up being relevant, but--
Anna: 03:19 Uh, they give you Cervidil?
Sara: 03:20 Sure, yeah. Yeah.
Anna: 03:23 And it's, it's a cervical ripener basically.
Sara: 03:25 Yes. That one, instead of inducing any, any contractions to start with it, it was supposed to do the cervical thing. Uh, so I got that at midnight and then by about noon, sometime during, sometime in between midnight and noon, I was not progressing as much as they would hope. Uh, and so they broke my water and then the contractions got much worse, but there was still no progress being made. And then I got an epidural because I couldn't, I couldn't breathe and focus at the same time. Like I could either focus and get through a contraction or I could breathe and I couldn't do both, which sucked. And then also her heart rate, uh, at the hospital that I went to, there's a, you have to have a fetal heart monitor all the time and her heart rate wasn't responding the way that they wanted it to after contractions. So I got an epidural so that they could do an internal heart monitor and then I shit you not within two hours of getting an epidural, I had my kid in my arms, like it went from nothing to done and my doctor at the time was like, yeah, I figured you were probably just really tense. And so.
Anna: 04:25 No, not Sara!
Sara: 04:26 No, what, not me! Tense? That's not at all my entire personality in a single word. Um, and so once you got the edge taken off, you know, you were fine, we probably could have given you a Tylenol and you would've relaxed and been fine. I was like, Oh, cool. Thanks. Cool, cool, cool. It was a very standard birth story in a lot of ways, there weren't any huge medical dramas or anything. The closest was that her heart rate wasn't doing what they wanted it to, but it wasn't a, it wasn't major.
Anna: 04:51 Happens all the time.
Sara: 04:52 Yeah, exactly. I found that out later. Like that's, yeah, probably, and my spouse still at the time even was like, I bet there's just, the monitor sucks. I bet that heart's fine. I was like, well, you know, one of us is getting a human out of them, so we're just going to go with me right now. Yeah. I had no, I had a very low-- All the drama for me happened the next day. It didn't happen that day. That day was fine. I don't know if they do this everywhere, in Oklahoma anyway, you have to have a hearing test before you can leave the hospital and they have to pass it or they have to fail it twice. If they fail it twice, you get like a hearing specialist comes and talks to you about hearing loss and stuff. Um, which I think is great. I don't have, um, obvs I think that's great. Um, but Chips failed the first time. And because I was so hormonal and freaked out, I wildly overreacted and cried for like a couple of hours, which is fine. It would have been fine if she had hearing loss. It would not have mattered at all. But I felt like I had failed.
Anna: 05:41 It's a very weird time.
Sara: 05:43 It's very weird. She passed just fine the second night. Like they kept us another night and she was fine but, and it again would have been fine if she had hearing loss but I just cried. But yeah, I had very low drama. You did not have very low drama.
Anna: 05:56 I had, well, so we had initially planned like tentatively a home birth or going to the birth center. I was under the care of midwives, which in Ontario is like, they are medically integrated, like they are in the U K sort of, um, it's not like out in the woods, but like you can choose an out of hospital birth if you're low risk. And throughout pregnancy I was really low risk. Everything was great and fine and we didn't have any issues. And so right up until kind of the end, we were still planning like, yeah, well you could go wherever you want, wherever you feel like going on the day is okay. Um, and then I started having prodromal labor uh at least two weeks before my due date. I can't even honestly remember, I think it started that Thanksgiving and she was born the 21st of December. Yeah. So prodromal labor is garbage labor. Like I would have two or three hours of what felt like, what was, like, it would go on a monitor as very real early labor and then would stop.
Sara: 06:56 Is that like Braxton-Hicks?
Anna: 06:58 It's more than Braxton Hicks. So like Braxton Hicks is just sort of your body doing, figuring out the muscles. Kind of what my midwife suggested was probably happening, which we figured out later was that my body was trying to get beans to change positions. Um, so like it wanted to labor, but it wasn't really working. So it was like, okay, we're gonna rest and try to get her to move, sort of. So anyway, I was in labor for a very long time. Um, and I kept like talking to the midwives and the midwives kept coming out to my house and like checking on me and putting the little thing on, checking her heart rate and everything was fine. But then like, I think it was actually on her due date, I had had a relatively long stretch of this going on and I was like crying because I hadn't like, it was worse at night and I had tried everything to like make it stick and just keep going, but it wouldn't. So we went in for sort of a regular appointment and they put me on the, like the real standup monitor thing with the straps and all that jazz. And then we found out that my blood pressure had spiked probably because I hadn't slept and had been in labor for three weeks.
Sara: 08:08 Yeah, it's amazing what that'll do to you. I don't know.
Anna: 08:09 Exactly. And so she has gone to the hospital, which was the hospital that I had attended several births in. So I had like chosen it very carefully because it was the one that from the birthing side I liked the most. So I got regular old Pitocin induction and an epidural right away cause I wasn't having a Pitocin induction with no epidural. My epidural was actually fantastic. Had a really amazing anesthetist as well. Like I didn't even have any of the unbalancing situation or anything. No windows, it was perfect and so we did that whole thing for ages and ages and ages, which was really only like 10 hours. Like overnight. Yeah I labored and I got like all the way there but her position was just bad and she was not coming out. Plus we just covered that her head is big, like not scary big but on the big side of normal. So she wasn't coming out and I ended up having C-section, which like all of that up to the point of the recovery room was great. My actual like getting the baby out of me experience. I feel really good and positive about. But my time in the postpartum ward sucked, they took me out of the recovery room where I had this nice little warm, cozy heavy blanket and everything. It turns out when they open up your abdomen and like all your organs are exposed, it makes you really cold. So then they took me to the postpartum ward and it was just, I had a roommate in the recovery room who had twins, one of whom was jaundiced enough that they had like the little bassinet thing with the glow light in there. So like we had three babies, one of whom was under a bright lamp all the time. Uh, all of that going on. Nobody had slept. We were all like dealing with issues and stuff and Beans was a little bit jaundiced, but not enough that we needed to freak out, just enough that they had to poke her to take her blood every six hours or something. My blood pressure was going crazy and the doctor was kind of a dick.
Sara: 10:12 No.
Anna: 10:14 And so like basically as soon as they determined that my high blood pressure was not eclampsia, we left, we went home and my midwives followed up with us in the morning because we were not getting, we felt appropriate attention for the situation. Like we just couldn't get any answers from anybody. So like under the care of my regular doctor and my midwives, they discharged me to home. Turns out that leaving without official medical approval kind of makes you feel like a crazy person, uh, I was having panic attacks. It was real bad. So we, you know, we're pretty sure that part of why my blood pressure was high was that I was in a full blown panic attack meltdown for hours because once we got like settled in and organized and like I was able to not be freaked out about my blood pressure, I had pretty much normalized. It took a while to get off the medication because they had me on crazy doses and stuff, but like.
Sara: 11:10 'Cause you had had abdominal surgery? Yeah. I don't know why they would put you on medication for that.
Anna: 11:16 Yeah. Yeah.
Sara: 11:16 We both are white and relatively fiscally secure and gave birth in relatively large, well Toronto's much bigger than Norman.
Anna: 11:26 My hospital was official, like it's a teaching hospital, research hospital, one of the best hospitals in the country. And like, like I said, my birth experience absolutely measured up. It was just, they were too busy. It was a busy time. Yeah. If I'm being generous, I understand why we didn't get seen enough, but like I just wanted to talk to a doctor and it was like, it was like 14 hours where I didn't see a doctor. I saw nurses who kept coming in and like changing things and taking blood and all kinds of stuff. Didn't see a doctor like no, this isn't working for me.
Sara: 12:00 And see the pediatrician that we saw like twice in the hospital is Chip's pediatrician. We kept him because we liked him so much. This is silly. He didn't treat Ja-- my spouse Jason, like he was helpless. Like he acted like Jason would also want to be involved, which was, yeah. Very nice. If you and your spouse present as a het couple, the temptation I'm sure for doctors to just ignore half of you is probably really probably really tempting, but ours didn't and we like him a lot. The only moments where I felt I was not being listened to were when they were telling me to push and they were describing it as, you need to bear down like you're going to the bathroom. And I was like, no, I don't. That's not where those muscles are. They're at the front part. I don't need to poop. I'm doing that probably, like statistically I'm probably already doing that. I need to push with my front muscles, so please don't tell me to do something that I'm not supposed to do. And that was silly, but like genuinely I had to be like, everyone stopped telling me to push. Just shh for a second please. Let me think about where my muscles are. Okay, now I'm good. Now we can go.
Anna: 13:00 And again, that's very much like a, specific to you. Not so much that like the guidance is correct. It's just that that is the easiest shorthand most of the time--
Sara: 13:11 Yes, which I totally get!
Anna: 13:12 Because you are you, you needed, you needed silence and to go inside yourself and find your muscle.
Sara: 13:18 Yeah, like just, shh, I have abdominal muscles. Hang on, I can do this, wait. Wait, wait everybody, it's weird. Did you have that moment? You may not have because of the C-section, that moment of like right before everything happened, right before it all really started for real, there was this very weird dissociative moment of like, Oh, this is going to be very interesting. I don't know what's going to happen next.
Anna: 13:39 The physics do not work.
Sara: 13:41 No, no, no. Cause I, I just realized what's about to happen and I kind of, I can't back up now, so, okay, cool. I guess, let's go then. I don't know.
Anna: 13:49 I honestly don't really remember.
Sara: 13:52 That's like, the only thing I remember is that moment.
Anna: 13:55 Well, because what happened with me in the pushing part, um, was that I had, her head was compressing a nerve internally and so I was getting referred pain up in my shoulders.
Sara: 14:08 Cool.
Anna: 14:09 To where I like couldn't move my head. That didn't go away until like 20 minutes after she was out.
Sara: 14:14 Oh my God.
Anna: 14:15 Like the nerve was able to release again. So like that whole end part, I was so absorbed in this weird shoulder, pain that didn't, didn't even really exist, like it should have been addressed. Like it was in a part of my body that was otherwise kind of numb. So it was very weird and they'd tried a whole bunch of different things. Like even during surgery they had to like tilt me weird on the table to try to get the pain to ease because I couldn't hold still against it. It was because her big old head was just pinching a ute nerve.
Sara: 14:51 That big old, that big old brain.
Anna: 14:54 Yes.
Sara: 14:56 Oh bodies are so weird. This is why my longstanding requests to be a brain in a jar. I'm just gonna throw it out again.
Anna: 15:02 But I think like that's part of why birth experiences become such a big deal because like in reality it's at most a couple of days of your life, but you're like in such a weird part of your body and brain and like time does weird things. And like I had attended other people's births and like the time, even the time and space thing feels weird. Just being part, present for it. And then also the other thing that's weird about attending other people's births is that after it's over, you just go home.
Sara: 15:35 Go home and have a grilled cheese sandwich.
Anna: 15:37 And yeah, the first couple of times I did it, I was like, so I just go back out into the world now. Like this is over?
Sara: 15:45 Okay, okay bye.
Anna: 15:46 Exactly. Um, but also you go home with your baby, it's still a little bit like that. Like everything changes in those two days.
Sara: 15:56 And it's been for many people several months of like prep and planning and waiting. And then it's okay here you go, bye.
Anna: 16:03 Yeah. But without any way to actually know.
Anna: 16:06 So we both have had, we both had relatively high standards of care in the birth itself, mixed afterwards, but the birth itself was, was fine. That is not the case for so many people. This is where I'm going to get real mad and try very hard not to talk about, I'm just going to let Anna do her bit and I'm gonna sit here and steam about it.
Anna: 16:24 So the racial disparity problem is massive and it's really remarkable how few people are aware of it.
Sara: 16:31 And has been for, I mean forever. It's always been this way.
Anna: 16:35 Yeah. I think like since, Serena Williams had a baby and like her birth was a pretty significant example of it. She didn't get the care she needed. She didn't get listened to. And like this is a person who has a lot of money and a lot of like recognition and people knew who she was and she still didn't get the care she should have gotten.
Sara: 16:56 This is a person whose job and livelihood rely on her knowing her own body and yet she wasn't being listened to about her own body.
Anna: 17:04 Yeah, um, we will link to that story for reference but like.
Sara: 17:09 Cause you should fucking read it if you haven't.
Anna: 17:11 You should read it. It is a relatively well known example, but really like the outcomes for both birthing people and their babies among African Americans and the indigenous people of North America and Australia and New Zealand are really, really bad. 16% of African Americans are born preterm compared to 10% of white infants. African American women are more than or nearly four times as likely to die from pregnancy related complications as white women, infant mortality, stillbirth, neonatal mortality are all up to four times as high for indigenous populations. This often all controlling for income and it actually gets worse with education. So African American parents with college educations have worse outcomes than white parents with high school educations or less. Knowing more isn't helping them, which indicates that it's coming from outside of them like it's not because they don't know what they need, it's because people are not serving them properly. And this is like I said, something that I am really passionate about and have since I have been sort of in the birth world have worked hard to try to make sure people are aware of because I work with worked primarily with newcomers and immigrant populations and low income families. I saw some of this like firsthand watched it happen and could see the differences in the way the same staffs in the same hospitals would treat different kinds of families and these are good hospitals that generally I liked and the staffs were generally pretty good like, but it was just, you could tell the different attitude when they walked in the room and some of them I think would be appalled to realize that they had done that. I don't think that it's necessarily something that everybody is doing on purpose. I think some of them would have been defensive and thought I was stupid for saying so. Uh.
Sara: 19:05 And some of it is training and systemic problems that isn't any one individual doctor.
Anna: 19:11 Exactly. I mean some of it is individual actions, but it stems from the fact that there is still a significant number of people in the medical professions who genuinely believe because probably they were taught by somebody else who genuinely believed it, that black people don't feel pain the same way white people do.
Sara: 19:28 And if you think that's bullshit, like no, it's there. There are studies.
Anna: 19:33 You can get peer reviewed academic articles on all of this and I have some, I'm going to throw some links in the, in the show notes for this just because I care about it very, very much. Yeah.
Sara: 19:44 It's not an other problem. It's not a, Oh it doesn't happen here problem. It's everywhere, everywhere, all the time.
Anna: 19:51 And because, you know, birth experiences are, they're very physical, they are very personal and intimate. It's very emotional and your brain is primed for trauma because you're like opened up in this way because of your hormones and everything that's going on and your exhaustion and all that. Your brain is primed for trauma. So then you add extra stuff into that mix and it branches out everywhere. Parents who have birth trauma are more likely to have postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychoses, all of those kinds of issues which impacts outcomes for the families and children further down the line. These are, we're talking about low birth weights and premature babies, which cause all kinds of other health problems. Um, so this percolates out into society. It's not just about the moment of giving birth. The things that happen in birth and happened to people who are giving birth changed their lives. We cannot overstate how serious this is.
Sara: 20:52 Yeah. We talk a lot on this program about community and about being a part of your community. This is your community. If you are a person who's never going to give birth, doesn't matter. Still your community. These are the hospitals and the people around you.
Anna: 21:04 You almost certainly, unless literally every person you know is white and middle-class, you almost certainly know somebody who's been impacted by this in some way.
Sara: 21:14 It extends into prenatal care as well, so if you don't know anyone who has had a stillbirth or an infant mortality situation, you probably know someone who has had a really shitty prenatal care experience.
Anna: 21:26 You have to think about how much of, how much of pregnancy is already a very careful line to tread between taking care of the pregnancy as a condition and taking care of a person who has their own body and their own experiences in that body. You know, you're dealing with a lot of touching your vagina, touching your vagina, touching your breasts.
Sara: 21:50 A lot of focus on your weight and your diet and your exercise like a lot of.
Anna: 21:54 And so if you have any kind of sensitivity or trauma on that front, you're immediately going to be set back as well. Again, there is a racial and cultural disparity in how bodily autonomy is treated. African-American, pregnant people are a lot more likely to be, have exams given to them in a way that is not as compassionate towards their body as it should be and that sort of thing. And just not generally listened to. And you know, some of it is inherently painful and uncomfortable and that's a fact, but it is also a fact that your caregivers can make that worse and it's not okay to be like, well, you're giving birth so it doesn't matter.
Sara: 22:35 Yeah.
Anna: 22:35 That's not to say that none of this stuff ever happens to white people.
Sara: 22:38 No, no, no.
Anna: 22:38 Of course it does, but it's, it's numbers. We're talking numbers. The, the odds of that happening are much less.
Sara: 22:46 They are astronomically higher if you are a person of color and it's horrifying and I'm really mad and I'm twisting a tie or on my fingers trying to not, trying to control my anger. Um, but that's part of why birth stories, not for everyone, but for me, that was part of it was reading birth stories when I was pregnant and realizing that there were massive disparities, massive disparities in the stories that people were telling, and then going to research why? Because that's what I do when I don't understand something. And then finding, Oh yeah, it's a known thing. Yeah. Parents of color are statistically incredibly likely, black parents and parents of color are incredibly likely to have horrible times.
Anna: 23:23 To kind of pull the threads in a little bit. Just because I know from my own experience and from the families that I've worked with that sometimes hearing all these bad birth stories can be really intimidating. It's really scary to feel like you're going to lose more control than you're ready to lose. Um, and to have that reinforced by other people's stories. If you have any issues with anxiety already, which is, you know, more common during pregnancy as it is can make the idea of getting birth really, really scary. And some of it is, I'm not gonna like pretend that it's not, but I think that there are certain things you can do to kind of help mitigate some of it. One of those things is I really, really, really think that most people should take a prenatal class. I sometimes don't think they're all that like comprehensive and perfect, but it will at least let you get a feel for what the, usually for what the staff is like in the hospital or the place you're planning to go. You'll get to, usually it's taught by a nurse or someone who's on the staff in the OB wards, you know, you'll know what kind of person they wanted to put out as their face. You will get a feel for, you know, the other people who are planning to give birth there. You'll get a feel for what the policies are in the hospital and kind of at the very least a minimum rundown of the things you should know. I think I have a couple of books that I usually really recommend and I generally suggest people approach their birth planning not as a worksheet but as kind of a system and I'm planning to include some of that in the show notes for this episode as well so that you can use some of the tools that I've got if it helps you feel a little bit more secure and stable and optimistic about how things can go. Yeah, and I think that like having it written down is helpful. Having some time to talk to your doctor and the other people in your care and support teams about it is helpful. You can use the worksheets to figure out what you need to think about. They're useful for that, but it's not the end of the process and not to be all, I don't mean to be all good vibes about this because it absolutely doesn't, not everything that happens is because people don't know what they're doing. This is something that lets you pull back a little bit of that control against a world that is sometimes fucked up.
Anna: 25:32 And if you are a person who makes a plan and then makes a backup plan and makes a backup plan for the backup plan, it can be helpful just to sit and think it through. Even if you don't end up using half of it. We weren't able to do most of my birth plan just because we weren't, but I had already thought through, okay, if we can't do this then we'll do this and if we can't do that then we'll do this.
Anna: 25:49 And you're able to think a little bit about why that matters to you. So if you, for example, you don't want to have directed pushing because you're the kind of person who needs to be able to focus in on themselves and go inside their body and find their muscles. That's something that like if your birth plan worksheet that you're working with has that prompt in it. Like do you want directed pushing yourself, directed pushing. You might be able to look into like what that means and think about it and how that would work for you.
Sara: 26:18 Cause I didn't realize that the, I had never heard that. I didn't realize it was a thing. And then later after the birth I was like, Oh man, that's the word that I wanted and I'm not, I don't like having to make split second decisions. I like having prep times. So birth plans are really good for that too. If only to think through your options. Even if you don't decide, then at least you have context.
Anna: 26:35 I think the context, yeah is really key because in the moment there's not always a lot of time. You're not going to get to say, okay pause, let me think about this for 45 minutes.
Sara: 26:45 Let me read 17 peer reviewed articles.
Anna: 26:48 Exactly. Yeah. So if you've done some of that homework in advance, then when it comes time to make the decisions, you have the ability to take them into your hands. And I did. I have had a client at one point who her sister was then one of my prenatal class clients and one of the things she wanted to make sure that I told her was that you can say no to most things. If you try to say no and it's a genuine true emergency, they're going to tell you that if it's just something that they'd kind of like to do and you don't want them to, you can say that. And I think a lot of the time it's a, you kind of defer to the authority of the people who know what they're doing, which is fair. But like when it comes to, you know, internal monitors are a much more invasive thing than external monitors. And you can ask.
Sara: 27:38 Do I need this?
Anna: 27:40 Or do I need this right now? Could be, you know, and if you do, they will say so.
Sara: 27:44 The prenatal classes helping with knowing the policies of the hospital is a really big deal. We, part of the reason we couldn't do a lot of the things on my birth plan is because they're not done at the hospital that I went to. I had already had my disappointment moment of Oh, I can't do this or that. Like the, okay, I can't do that. I'm already gonna have my whole being upset about that so we don't have to do it day of. I'm going in knowing here are the things I can do and I'm going to hold onto those.
Anna: 28:07 They're expensive sometimes and I completely understand that. They are time consuming. Um, but if you can make it happen, I usually really recommend it. If you can't make a formal class happen, I at least recommend trying to find someone who has given birth at that hospital. Go on Facebook, I know the community on your community page and just ask like, can I talk to somebody who is giving birth here?
Sara: 28:30 A lot of them will give you a tour. Like, yes, and you don't have to have a class for that. You can, you can take a tour if you aren't coughing and sneezing everywhere probably.
Anna: 28:36 And usually the tours are free or extremely cheap.
Sara: 28:41 Yeah, and if not, like if you can't do a class, you can't do anything else, at least seeing the place before you're there giving birth can help a lot. Like, seeing where you're going to be and seeing where the nursery is and seeing where the nurses' desks are, like. Drive there.
Anna: 28:55 Drive there. If there's more than one way you might take, take both ways, walk in, find the floor you need to go to. You may not be able to actually walk into like the ward because a lot of times where wards are locked.
Sara: 29:07 Knowing where the freakin' door is, Oh my God. Talking about how birth stories can make birth seem really scary and traumatic. They can also be like weirdly reassuring you. You were not the only one in the world probably who has had some aspects of your birth story. Anna is not the only person that I know who had an emergency ish emergency C section. I am not the only person that I know who had absolutely no progress for 12 hours. But being able to commiserate with that with other people in that way can be really helpful if if it was traumatic or if it was difficult or if it was. If you didn't know a lot of people who had given birth or had never talked to them about their birth, it can feel very, I don't have anyone to talk to about this.
Anna: 29:48 And I think for a lot of people, I mean a lot of the families that I worked with are not around kids like their kid is the first baby. You just don't have that context. You don't have anybody to ask. You might have your mom who gave birth 30 years ago.
Sara: 30:04 Yeah, there's an interesting book. I'm not going to say it's great. It's probably really flawed. I don't actually, it's pretty old now, but it's called Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born. There are lots of collections about like how childbirth procedures and fads and stuff have changed. It was very interesting because it talked a lot about how births were in the seventies and eighties which is when Anna and I were born. You all should Google "twilight sleep." It is a fascinating, horrifying thing that we used to do to people.
Anna: 30:31 You know that state you're in when you're like half asleep but half dreaming and sometimes get sleep paralysis and see scary figures? It's basically that, but you're also giving birth.
Sara: 30:40 And no pain, like, you're feeling everything. There's no pain management.
Anna: 30:44 Just don't necessarily remember it. You can still, and it turns out you can still totally be traumatized about that. Even if you don't remember it. You can have all the symptoms of PTSD and not actually remember what happened.
Sara: 30:56 There's a lot of really interesting research about why humans have so much trouble giving birth and why, relatively, right? Related to like, versus like cows. I mentioned cows specifically. I grew up on a cattle ranch. Most of the time cows are fine and then when they're not, they do require intervention but a lot of times they require intervention for the same reason people do. The calf is badly positioned or it's bigger than the birthing cow can handle, all of which are things that can happen to people too and it.
Anna: 31:23 And that same cow may have another calf and not have an issue, it turns out that it's like the problem is the two bodies together and not just one or the other. Usually, like I had learned about babies positioning and stuff as a doula and I, you know, did some of the spinning babies things and that sort of thing, but even I didn't really understand how incredibly important. Things don't work if it's not lined up.
Sara: 31:53 Yeah, bodies are weird, and everybody's body is different. Anyway, not the point. The point is! Returning back to what we were talking about.
Anna: 32:00 The way your birth goes changes the way you parent.
Sara: 32:02 If you choose to breastfeed, your birth experience can have a huge impact on that.
Anna: 32:08 Oh, absolutely.
Sara: 32:09 The racial disparity pops up there again, look at that. It comes up everywhere.
Anna: 32:12 Because it's very difficult to lactate when you're super stressed out.
Sara: 32:16 And you've just had a traumatic experience.
Anna: 32:20 Being extra, physically traumatic can change the way your body responds in a lot of ways. So can the way you're treated emotionally changes, like. Feelings are hormones. And so if you're scared or angry or upset, your hormones are a mess, you're not going to make milk very well.
Sara: 32:39 The point of talking about our stories for us anyway, one is it's a, it's a forged connection that we are all about. Um, and two is it's kids and people who have them are part of your community. Issues like racial disparity and birth outcomes and birth trauma affect your community.
Anna: 32:56 People in your lives are dealing with the way birth went. You are dealing with the way your birth went to an extent like.
Sara: 33:04 We all got born.
Anna: 33:04 And we try to sanitize it and think about it as a, you know, standardized system that more or less works most of the time. And birth stories are both intensely personal and like you said, they impact the way your whole community works. The household, the family is just one unit but it all comes in together. And so if the households in your community are struggling with this stuff, with birth trauma and being treated badly because of their race and income and that sort of stuff, that is going to impact the way they interact with you and the people around them. And that all comes into itself.
Sara: 33:43 Um, hey, do you have a parenting triumph for me?
Anna: 33:46 Uh, so we went to school today. Beans was super excited to go downstairs and play. She still cried a little bit when I left, but like only for a couple of minutes. When I went down to get her, she was actively playing again and she's just doing really well with it. And I'm so proud of her. And we had a really good day and we built in time this morning to be a little bit silly. So we played jumping over the sidewalk cracks where we're walking from the car.
Sara: 34:09 Nice.
Anna: 34:09 And she, when she jumps over stuff, she goes, Ooh, ah.
Sara: 34:12 That's amazing. Ooh ah! Chips is on break. She's on fall break. But so today we slept in and then made lunch and then snuggled and watched. We have very lazy, lazy, lazy day. And then she was pretending, I was telling Anna before we started the call, Halloween is coming up in the U S and elsewhere and she wants to be a character from Dark Crystal. And we watched a couple episodes while I tried to pause the show to get a good full body view of the character that she wants to play. And so there are characters, there are race in the show called podlings, which are these little adorable and they're very, very cute. And she was a baby podling all afternoon. So if you wanted to leave us a review or rating on your preferred streaming service. That would be fantabulous.
Anna: 34:59 We also have a link on our Instagram and in some other places for uh, listener feedback. We love it.
Sara: 35:05 We love it.
Anna: 35:06 Please tell us things, ideally nice things, but if you know not, I guess that's fine too.
Sara: 35:12 Yeah, if we're doing something bad we want to know so we can not do it anymore.
Anna: 35:16 So we can fix it. Yeah, we will, we will nurse our pride for five minutes then go off and do the thing.
Sara: 35:21 Fix the damn thing.
Anna: 35:22 You can find me on most platforms really at Mulberry Terrace. My website with my work and my newsletter, Letters From Mulberry Terrace, is at mulberryterrace.net.
Sara: 35:33 We are on Twitter and Instagram as well under parent_rap. We share episodes on there. We share extras, links, the relevant posts to our whole endealment. And you can find me at Cyranoh on Twitter. That's C. Y. R. a. N. O. H. underscore. Yeah, please, like I said, drop us a review if you have a minute. I know how much it sucks to be asked to drop a review. I don't like doing it either, but it really does help us in terms of getting some more eyes on the podcast and getting--
Anna: 36:01 Tell your friends!
Sara: 36:02 You know someone in your life who has given birth or who has a partner who has given birth or is a parent or parent adjacent type.
Anna: 36:08 Or who was once born.
Anna: 36:10 Statistically probably, you know someone who was once born and if you don't, I would really like to meet them. We love you a lot.
Anna: 36:16 You're doing a great job.
Sara: 36:17 It's going to be okay.
Anna: 36:17 It's gonna be okay.
music: 36:17 [music]
Anna: 36:48 Our theme music is “Humm OK” by Gablè off their album Le Sac De L’Enfer, and is provided free with attribution, for which we’re very grateful. You can find Gablè at www.gableboulga.com. I’m not sure I’m pronouncing that correctly, so it’s (spells website).