14. Parenting LGBTQ+ Kids – with Ellie Dote

On today’s episode, Elle sits down with Ellie Dote, a transgender, lesbian woman who has a deep and beautiful relationship with Christ. They discuss being LGBTQ+ while raising LGBTQ+ kids, the experiences we’ve had that have shaped how we parent our LGBTQ+ kids, and the things that we think society and individuals need to think about and find solutions for to make our communities safer and more accepting for people across every spectrum.

“What you are on the outside is not necessarily what you are on the inside.” – Elle

“I liked that book! There was a kid like me in it! They were a boy AND a girl! Just like me!” – Teddy

“Just seeing Teddy lean into that freedom has just been so good!” – Elle

“I’m 30 and I’m STILL learning to say ‘This is who I am!’” – Elle

“I didn’t even realize that the transgender community was a possibility or a thing until I was 40.” – Ellie Dote

“I knew that there was something different from a very early age, but I didn’t necessarily know what.” – Ellie Dote

“There’s a lot of criticism – ‘why do we have all these labels?’ And honestly, if you didn’t have those labels, it would be really hard for people to say ‘Me too!’” – Elle

“In reality, do we need them? Mmm, maybe not. But we do need them for our society to give words to an experience.” – Ellie Dote

“I think of it as the way you see a true rainbow. It’s not broken up into separate colors that are completely distinct from each other. They bleed into each other and they overlap and there are some shades that you aren’t quite sure – ‘Is it really blue or is it really purple? It’s just kind of both.’” – Elle

“You have to see the spectrum in the media, because for some people, that’s their only experience. So, not only do we have to see LGBTQ people and people of all colors represented in media – we need to see those people in all kinds of positions, in all kinds of variations of relationships and coming out stories and discovering yourself stories, because, like you said, not everybody’s story is the same.” – Elle

“How can I make my kid’s journey better than my journey was?” – Elle

“The big thing that I’ve discovered is really just being willing to listen. To listen to our experiences, and to find common ground. The biggest thing that we have in common is that we’re all human, we’re all taking up space on this earth, and we’re all living in this community.” – Ellie Dote

“And that is the most important thing – is to listen to each other’s stories and see the tapestry that is woven together for our society and our community, and appreciate that.” – Ellie Dote

“How do I wish the people around me had responded when I had disclosed to them? And that’s what I’m trying to bring to Teddy.” – Elle

“If your child doesn’t come to you for answers, doesn’t feel comfortable asking you these questions, and you haven’t created a space for them to have these conversations, then they are going to find the answers somewhere else. And the places where they get the answers could be disastrous, could be risky, and could be… could put their own life in danger.” – Ellie Dote

“I think that it is VITALLY important as parents that we provide that space to listen to our kids and to allow them to ask questions, and to not be afraid to have these tough conversations. Because the consequences of not being able to are too big of a price to pay.” – Ellie Dote

“It’s not enough to just say “Oh, my kids know I’m accepting, my kids know I’m x, y, and z. It is still hard for your kid. It is something that we have to be proactive with because there is such a stigma. There is such a fear around these conversations.” – Ellie Dote

“We need to normalize being more human in front of our kids and letting them see more of the range of emotions other than happy, authoritatrian, and angry.” – Elle

“We have built a society where it’s not ok to show weakness, and that is something that needs to change.” – Ellie Dote

 

We do offer a Content Warning for today’s episode, as we do briefly discuss the topics of suicide and risky behavior.

Listen to the episode here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Darryl Dote was born and raised in Southern California, where he found an early place in music ministry within the Catholic Church.  What he didn’t know at the time was that he was using his identity as “church musician” as a way to hide from the real battle over her identity.  When adolescence began to set in, he quickly learned that his role in music ministry wasn’t as authentic as he needed it to be – and so he left the Catholic Church in search of something deeper – and found it in Evangelical Christianity, where he went to Bible College and pursued a career in full time ministry.  After getting married and starting a family, Darryl continued on this path – until he couldn’t hide it anymore.

In 2016, after receiving the devastating news that he was HIV positive, Darryl was left to face the questions surrounding his identity head-on – and shortly after that, it was discovered that Darryl wasn’t the 40 year old cisgender heterosexual male that he had grown up as – he was really Ellie, a young woman that had been fighting to be seen for her entire life.

In early 2017, Ellie began taking her first steps, and 2019 found her divorced, living back in Southern California, and a single mom to her youngest child.  Her journey and experience in ministry has allowed her to have conversations with various church leaders about the LGBTQ+ community and inclusion.  She is currently working (slowly) on a memoir, and regularly shares her thoughts on the intersection of her trans identity, the LGBTQ+ community, and her faith as a Christian on her blog, elliedote.com.

You can find her on Facebook and on her website elliedote.com and Ellie can be found on myspace.

Resources related to today’s episode:

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the national suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Red by Michael Hall

Resources regarding Faith and LGBTQ

Orange County LGBTQ Center

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

13. Pelvic Floor Relaxation – with Dr. Whitney Sippl

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Dr. Whitney Sippl, a women’s health physical therapist and a women’s clinical specialist. They discuss pelvic floor relaxation, how to prepare your pelvic floor for birth, and easy steps and actions you can take to help get your pelvic floor health back to normal after birth. She uses a ton of easy to understand metaphors to explain all of the concepts she talks about, and makes it super easy to understand, even if you don’t currently know anything about the pelvic floor!

Whitney starts by explaining what the pelvic floor is, and its importance before, during, and after birth. She dives into the myths surrounding the pelvic floor (that it’s “normal” to have pelvic pain during pregnancy, to have incontinence issues postpartum, and painful sex after delivering), and how these can be addressed with a pelvic floor physical therapist.

“We don’t have to just live with annoying or painful symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum, and that it’s common to have this symptoms, but it’s never normal.” – Whitney Sippl

Busting Myths:

“Kegels don’t fix everything.” – Whitney Sippl

“Tightness doesn’t equal strength.” – Whitney Sippl

“[During birth] our pelvic floor doesn’t do the pushing.” – Whitney Sippl

“Strength is great to have, but for birth we actually want really good relaxation of the pelvic floor.” – Whitney Sippl

“Our body’s natural response to pain or discomfort is to tense and guard, and a tense muscle is more likely to tear. So if we can relax the muscles as much as we can during labor, then that’s one way that we can help prevent tearing.” – Whitney Sippl

Whitney then discusses perineal massage and perineal prep, the goal of perineal preparation, and how to do it. She talks step by step through perineal prep, how to do it, how often to do it, how long it should take, and the differences between the birthing person doing it themselves vs the birthing partner helping with it.

She also talks about the correct way to do a Kegel. She explains several different visuals to help you find the proper muscles for a Kegel, how important it is to relax fully in between Kegels, and how to make sure you are doing Kegels properly.

Listen to the episode here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Dr. Whitney Sippl is a women’s health physical therapist and a women’s clinical specialist.  She treats women in their homes throughout Orange County and at a clinic in Costa Mesa through her company Restored Physique Physical Therapy and she teaches free monthly classes at OC birth centers and speaks for various moms groups.  She also provides two online classes for women, one discussing topics related to Prenatal physical health and labor prep and one discussing Postpartum recovery.  She’s passionate about promoting awareness, well-being, and healing with a goal of empowering women during the prenatal and postnatal periods to address discomforts or concerns.  Many women are told that symptoms such as incontinence, painful intercourse, scar pain, pelvic or back pain, pelvic pressure or abdominal separation are normal during pregnancy or after having a baby; however, though COMMON, these conditions are not “NORMAL” and there are many ways to address these concerns.  Whitney loves teaching women ways to take care of themselves during pregnancy and how to get their bodies back after childbirth and she is also the mom of two little ones.

You can find her on Instagram @restoredphysique and Facebook (Whitney Sippl) and on her website restoredphysique.com

Resources related to today’s episode:

Hypnobabies

Dr. Whitney’s Prenatal and Postnatal Classes

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

12. Amanda’s Birth Story: An Empowered Unplanned C-Section Birth

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Amanda Armstrong, a Women’s Mental and Physical Health Life Coach specializing in anxiety, depression and postnatal recovery through her business Rise As We. She was raised in CA, but currently lives in Virginia with her husband, son, dog and countless house plants. Like many, her birth didn’t go according to plan, but in this episode, she shares how she used her physical and mental preparation to move through it all.

Amanda opens up and shares the emotional transformation she went through when she got pregnant quicker than she expected to. She talks about how, while she was grateful and happy to be pregnant, and excited to meet her baby, that getting pregnant so quickly, when she’d been prepared for it to take a little while was hard.

“I had a lot of mental work to validate that it was okay that it my hard looked different than other people, and to validate that it was a different flavor, and that it was still hard.” – Amanda Armstrong

“We’re humans. Our emotions are so complex! But they’re still valid.” – Elle Kennedy

Amanda also talks about gainly an above-average amount of weight for her body size during pregnancy, and Taylor discusses the medical concerns with “too much weight gain” and how it relates to gestational diabetes. The girls talk about how weight gain is not the be-all end-all of diagnosis for gestational diabetes, and weight changes in pregnancy can look WILDLY different for each pregnant person.

“There is a wide range of what is normal!” – Elle Kennedy

Amanda then shares her emotional birth experience, from how her labor starting with her water breaking through to her unplanned c-section, and all of the beautiful moments in between that led her to being peaceful and at ease with her decision.

“I had mentally prepared for, like, an hour of this, and not five hours of this!” – Amanda Armstrong

“’You’re pushing in a beautiful way! He’s just not moving. … We just need to have the c-section conversation.’ And I was devastated.” – Amanda Armstrong

“I was ready and I trusted my body to have a vaginal delivery.” – Amanda Armstrong

“I am so glad that you had a midwife there with you who was willing to have these conversations early and give you time to process and give you time to make that decision.” – Elle Kennedy

“I’m so grateful at this point for the meditation practice that I have, the meditation practice that I brought with me, to practice a level of acceptance.” – Amanda Armstrong

Amanda also talks about the things she did to continue making this birth feel unique and special and hers, even as she let go of control of the outcome. She discusses how she felt, her hopes for other pregnant people facing the same situation, and how she worked (and continues to work) on giving herself closure.

“This is the story that’s being written right now.” – Amanda Armstrong

“‘Before we head in there, you need to know these four things.’ She said, ‘One, you’ve already proven that you are an amazing mother, because you are choosing his needs over your wants right now, which proves that you are going to put him first time and time again.’ She said ‘Two, this is absolutely no failure on your part. You pushed – they were strong and they were beautiful, and I see no reason why you cannot have that vaginal birth that you want in the future. You have done incredibly well today. Three, you’re not only becoming a mother soon, but through all of this, you’re going to become a warrior as well. And four, you need to know that you’re not in any of this alone. We are all here, and we’ve all got you.” – Amanda Armstrong

“This is a huge, defining moment! Like, you don’t just leave home with a baby, you leave home a mother.” – Amanda Armstrong

“Acknowledging the disappoint, but also extending such a heart and such a hand to say ‘We’re here. We’ve got you.’” – Amanda Armstrong

“There is no such thing as failure in bringing a human into the world. A birth is a birth is a birth.” – Amanda Armstrong

“You leave with a scar that marks you as a warrior forever.” – Amanda Armstrong

“I created a space where I felt empowered internally, even amidst something I felt like I couldn’t control, and felt so empowered, and truly not alone.” – Amanda Armstrong

“I still tried to make it my own moment, and my own story.” – Amanda Armstrong

“I bought all of the things to recover from a vaginal delivery, and I just didn’t need those things. My recovery didn’t look like that.” – Amanda Armstrong

“You waited until you ready to hold that space for yourself.” – Elle Kennedy

Listen to the episode here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Amanda Armstrong is a Women’s Mental and Physical Health Life Coach specializing in anxiety, depression and postnatal recovery through her business Rise As We. She was raised in CA, but currently lives in Virginia with her husband, son, dog and countless house plants. She has a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology, specializing in Sport & Exercise Psychology and worked as a Personal Trainer at Google HQ in CA before leaving in 2018 to run her coaching business full time. She’s a lover of sunshine, nachos and a mint chip ice cream.

You can find her on Instagram @amandaontherise and on her website riseaswe.com

Resources related to today’s episode:

Amanda’s Core and Pelvic Floor Course (with C-Section Recovery Guide)

Family Centric Cesarean Birth Plan (if you are looking for more idea, it is also called a “Gentle Cesarean” or “Natural Cesarean”)

B.R.A.I.N. Acronym Printable

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

11. Comfort Care and Self-Care – with Jill Magoffin

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Jill Magoffin, a certified birth Doula and postpartum Doula with DONA INTERNATIONAL.  In addition to being a Doula, Jill is also trained as a New Parent Educator and Newborn Care Specialist. Additional Doula training has included courses such as Hypnobirthing and advanced Rebozo skills for birth and postpartum care. They discuss comfort care and self-care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum.

Comfort care is making sure the birthing person is as comfortable as possible before, during, and after labor. It’s not necessarily pain medication or using different positions, but more along the lines of little things that make the birthing person feel comfortable. It is an extension of self-care – comfort care is someone else taking care of you in those ways. Some examples given in the episode include:

      • Massage
      • Essential oils
      • Heat/cold packs
      • Scratching their back
      • Rubbing their feet
      • Brushing their hair

What kinds of things make you feel calm? Do you like twinkle lights? What are your favorite colors/what colors feel calming to you? Do you like certain scents (diffusers or candles)? How can you tap into a sense of magic and wonder while you’re in labor? What birth affirmations really speak to you? What clothing makes you feel beautiful/comfortable/cozy/positive? Is there music or sounds that are relaxing to you (white noise, ocean sounds, thunderstorms, etc.)? What foods are nourishing, comforting, and filling for them?

Quotes

“I prefer that everyone have a healthy experience.” – Jill Magoffin

“It’s ok to ask for what makes you feel good.” – Jill Magoffin

“I have to remind my birthing people that they are in charge.” – Jill Magoffin

“I just urge anyone that’s having a child to prepare and really think about what relaxes them, and get those things.” – Jill Magoffin

“What’s the plan for your postpartum care? Who is in your village? Who is going to be offering to help? Are you going to assign them things to do? Do not let everyone just hold your baby!” – Jill Magoffin

“Your only job after you have a baby is to take care of yourself and that child. Everything else can be handled by someone else.” – Jill Magoffin

“There’s not one way of doing things. There’s not one way of birth. There’s not one way of feeding your baby. There’s not one way of swaddling. I mean, there’s a million ways. You have to do what works for you!” – Jill Magoffin

“Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.” – Elle Kennedy

“I think the partner participating [in comfort care] is just as important as the person giving birth.” – Jill Magoffin

Listen to the episode here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

After spending most of her life in the corporate world, but attending the births of countless friends and family members, Jill finally realized her calling, and completed Doula training at Bini Birth in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Jill is a certified birth Doula and postpartum Doula with DONA INTERNATIONAL.  In addition to being a Doula, Jill is also trained as a New Parent Educator and Newborn Care Specialist. Additional Doula training has included courses such as Hypnobirthing and advanced Rebozo skills for birth and postpartum care.  Jill is a Certified Usui/Holy Fire III Reiki I & II healer.

Jill approaches her role with flexibility, kindness, humor, and compassion.  She is extremely passionate about making sure that the person giving birth is supported and advised of all their choices surrounding birth. Jill aims to achieve a safe, calm, and joyous experience of bringing their little one into the world.

Jill lives in Simi Valley, California with her beautiful, blended family of 4 children, and her loving husband Bryan.

You can find her on Instagram @jillmagoffin and Facebook at Jill Magoffin and on her website jillmagoffin.com

Resources related to today’s episode:

Rebozo

Kelila’s Birth Story

Rose’s Birth Story

Postpartum Plan – with Tourmaline Collective

Join our email list to access our freebies page, including our Self-Care Ideas List and our Printable Birth Affirmations pages. We have a few different versions. Some are perfect for putting up on the wall, and others are perfect for cutting out to keep in your pocket, wallet, or purse.

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

10. Courtney’s Birth Story: A Joyful Hypnobirth

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Courtney Riel Owens, a performer, a Hypnodoula, and is studying to become a Hypnobabies Trainer. Courtney shares the birth story of her older daughter, Hazel, her journey to becoming a Hypnodoula, and how Hypnobabies has helped her and many of her clients to have a peaceful, relaxed birthing experience.

Courtney shares how growing up with positive birth stories inspired her to seek out a positive birth experience of her own. She found Hypnobabies, and it led to a beautiful, joy-filled, positive birth experience with both of her children.

She talks all about her older daughter’s birth, how her background in dance and performing helped her during labor, and some fun quirky parallels between the birth of her daughter and her daughter’s personality now that she’s 8.

Courtney shares encouragement, funny anecdotes, and lively banter, as well as lots of information about how Hypnobabies can help facilitate positive birthing experiences.

Quotes

“I was really lucky. My mom had great birth stories. So I grew up with a different idea of what birth could be.” – Courtney Riel Owens

“I thought I was paying for a 6-week course, and as it turns out, I was paying for a course for my lifetime.” – Courtney Riel Owens

“I kept saying over and over, ‘I can’t believe you’re here.’” – Courtney Riel Owens

“It took a long time for me to feel LOVE.” – Courtney Riel Owens

“A lot of people feel really bad about themselves if they don’t feel that love toward their child immediately. It is really, really normal!” – Courtney Riel Owens

“You’re allowed to feel your feelings – but you’re not allowed to be mean.” – Courtney Riel Owens

“Self care can be boring! And that’s okay!” – Elle Kennedy

Listen to the episode here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Courtney Riel Owens is a multi talented performer (who can be seen hoofing it up around southern CA when not in these plague ridden times) and a Hypnobabies hypno-doula in the LA and Orange Counties.  She is currently studying to become a Hypnobabies instructor.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, all things Disney, and tea; among a plethora of other things.  Also, not necessarily in that order.  Courtney has one husband, two kids, three dogs, and an affinity for knowing a little bit about a lot of things.

For pregnancy, birth, postpartum, or early childhood specific inquiries, you can reach out to her via email-  crobirthdoula@gmail.com or you can search for her under “Find a Doula” on hypnobabiesla.com and hypnobabies.com if you are looking for a Hypnodoula.

Resources related to today’s episode:

Hypnobabies

Hypnobabies LA

Carole Thorpe – Hypnobabies Teacher

Ep 5: Chiropractic for Pregnancy – with Dr. Taylor Garcia

Sue Walcott (Midwife – Northern California)

Birthing Pool

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

9. Postpartum Plan – with Tourmaline Collective

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Allison Tartari and Maral Shabak of the Tourmaline Collective, which offers prenatal, postpartum, and birth services alongside a wellness team of holistic practitioners, to talk about Postpartum Plans. They discuss what a Postpartum Plan is, why it is essential to mental and physical recovery after labor and delivery, and how to go about creating one (along with tons of ideas about what to consider when making yours).

The goal of a postpartum plan to pre-plan a support system for the birthing person, baby, and partner for the weeks following delivery by anticipating their needs during the postpartum period, and figuring out ways to meet those needs before you’re in the thick of it. “One of the biggest reasons that women suffer from postpartum depression is a lack of sleep and a lack of well-balanced nutrition.” – Allison Tartari. They suggest that during the postpartum period, partners should check in with each other (and themselves!) several times a day to see how they’re doing, if their needs are being met, and what can be done to meet those needs. It may sound like overkill, but during the postpartum period where new routines are being established, it can be incredibly helpful to keep those lines of communication open.

Allison and Maral use Kimberly Ann Johnson’s Postpartum Plan to guide their clients through the creation of their own postpartum plan. It’s an extensive guide that asks pointed, specific questions for expecting parents to think about in terms of how they can handle situations and who they can call on for help in different areas. They suggest talking to your support people ahead of time. Check in and ask them if they would be available and willing to help in those specific areas (for example, some people might be totally fine coming over and helping clean your house for you, while others might be more comfortable cooking you a homemade meal and dropping it off, or being a listening ear when you’re having a tough time).

Ideas for what to include:

  • Who can you call when you are feeling overwhelmed?
  • Who will listen without judgment or advice?
  • What are your favorite/most nourishing meals? Can we delegate someone to organize a meal train for meals to be delivered/dropped off?
  • Is there someone who might be able to stay with you for a little while to help with overnights and that transition period?
  • Does your partner have someone to reach out to for emotional support?
  • What brings you joy and happiness? How can you implement those in small ways back into your life?

Quotes:

“Every single pregnant person on the planet needs a postpartum plan. Cuz you’re gunna get there! No matter what. It’s the one guarantee with pregnancy and birth is at some point, baby is gunna be outside of your body, and you’re gunna be in the recovery phase.” – Maral Shabak

“One of the biggest reasons that women suffer from postpartum depression is a lack of sleep and a lack of well-balanced nutrition.” – Allison Tartari

“Every time we evolve as a parent, and we become a parent again, we change. We need to give ourselves love and some slack and understand that things are gunna have to be different.” – Allison Tartari

“Nothing is returning to a pre-pregnancy state. That state is gone forever.” – Maral Shabak

“Intimacy is going to become about a lot of smaller actions, like sitting next to your partner, or the touch of an arm, or connecting and listening. Those are going to be the intimate moments that are really going to carry a relationship.” – Maral Shabak

Listen to the episode here.

 Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Allison Tartari and Maral Shabak of the Tourmaline Collective.

Located in the heart of Pacific Beach. Tourmaline, operated by 3 Licensed midwives, offers prenatal, postpartum, and birth services alongside a wellness team of holistic practitioners. Their team is made up of a naturopath, nutritionist, acupuncturist, herbalist, cranial sacral therapist, and pelvic floor therapist.

Their mission is to give holistic, evidence based care all while fostering community, and connection to the families we serve. In addition to medical and midwifery care they offer classes, support groups and education to the community. Most of these will be low cost or free, and will be supported by Thrive Community Wellness, a 501c(3) non-profit organization. They believe, to truly thrive, you must have all of your healthcare providers collaborating together to achieve the most optimal outcomes, using a whole body approach. They take pride in their work and are dedicated to providing a safe, beautiful, and tranquil wellness center.

You can find them on Instagram @tourmaline_collective and on their website tourmalinecollective.com or by phone at [NUMBER]

Resources related to today’s episode:

Tourmaline Collective featured on Noble Carriage Instagram

Tourmaline Collective Childbirth Education Classes

The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide by Kimberly Ann Johnson

Postpartum Support Groups

WARM Crisis Line

OC LGBTQ Center – Therapy

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Thrive Wellness Collective

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

8. Kelila’s Birth Story: A Jewish Orthodox Surrogacy

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Kelila Green, who shares her surrogacy birth story. As an Orthodox Jewish woman, her journey started by making sure her religious beliefs would support and affirm her desire to help another family have a baby, and led to two families who are now friends (and family) through the birth of that beautiful baby.

Kelila talks about her journey into parenthood, and how she knew – even before having children of her own – that she wanted to be a surrogate and help another family grow. She discusses the religious aspects of surrogacy that she had to consider before even traveling down the path to surrogacy.

Kelila delves deep into the process of surrogacy with Elle and Taylor – what to expect, what it’s like, things to think about, things to know – things that you might not expect or think about if you haven’t gone through the process yourself. From making sure that the principles and morals of both surrogate and intended parents align, to keeping the intended parents informed on medical and pregnancy-related concerns, to all of the medications the surrogate has to go on to start the pregnancy, to how the media has portrayed surrogacy, to the differences between someone using a friend or family member as a surrogate as opposed to searching for the right surrogate, to the differences between first trimester with a natural pregnancy vs an IVF pregnancy.

She talks about the surreal quality of giving birth and not having a baby in your arms. She talks about how each step of the journey after birth was a step along the journey of closure for her, as the intended/genetic parents bonded and took over as guardians for the baby. She also talks about how her kids got closure after her surrogacy birth.

Quotes from this Episode:

“We went towards with just a wholeheartedness of saying ‘okay, let’s just find the right couple.’” – Kelila Green

“You need to make sure that your principles and morals align with the person that you’re asking to carry your child.” – Elle Kennedy

“Everyone always asked me ‘Isn’t it going to be difficult to give the child up when it’s time to give birth?’ And I kept saying ‘But this isn’t my child to give up. It’s not my child.’” – Kelila Green

“Even though the birth is such, obviously, an important part of bringing this life into the world, it’s such a small part of the whole life.” – Kelila Green

“The birth itself is integral. It’s important. It’s intimate. It is a transitional thing. It’s a transformative experience. But in the life of the child, it’s a blip… What happens afterward: that’s what they’re gunna remember. That’s what they’re gunna know.” – Elle Kennedy

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is to ask ‘If you were in my position, what would you do?’” – Elle Kennedy

“My best piece of advice for people who are looking to navigate it is to not be afraid to ask questions, to not be afraid to really delve deep within yourself to really think about what you want.” – Kelila Green

“My dream for the birth community is that people are empowered to see what their bodies can do.” – Kelila Green

Listen to this episode here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Kelila Green has spent most of her life working with babies and children. She started as a mother’s helper at age 11 and continuously garnered knowledge from the parents she helped not only in how in to be a role model to their children but in learning everything she could about pregnancy, parenting, and all things family oriented.

When the time came for Kelila and her husband to embark on becoming parents to their own children, Kelila knew how fortunate she was to get pregnant easily and thoroughly enjoyed each of her three pregnancies. From all of the experience Kelila had, she had confidence that being a mother was the path she was meant to take and Kelila and her husband decided she would be a stay at home mother as well as a homeschool mom when their children were ready to start school.

A few years ago, Kelila realized that because she enjoyed her own pregnancies and becoming a mother so much that, if possible, it would be a dream come to true to be a surrogate and help another family do the same.  Through a fateful connection, Kelila met with the intended parents and carried their child to full term and is looking to help expand their beautiful family this coming year.

You can find her on Instagram @oursandyrs, in her Facebook Group Oursandyrs: Our Online Village and on her website ouronlinevillage.com

Resources related to today’s episode:

Friends – Phoebe as Surrogate

Fuller House – Surrogacy

OursandYrs: Our Online Village

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

07. Informed Consent – with Tatiana Koontz – Episode Transcription

The Birth Re-Imagined Podcast, Episode 07: Informed Consent – with Tatiana Koontz

Elle Kennedy (Introduction): Hi, we’re Elle and Taylor, and we’re here to join you on your journey from pregnancy to birth, postpartum, and beyond! Here on the podcast, you’ll get interviews with birth and parenting professionals, birth stories, and educational episodes to get you feeling confident, supported, and empowered on your journey to and through parenting. Welcome to Birth Re-Imagined.

Due to recording during Covid, it is impossible for us to meet our interviewees in person, which means we don’t always have control over all of our audio elements. In this episode, we had some minor technical difficulties at the end of the episode. Because we want you to receive as much information and takeaways from each episode, we have transcribed the entire episode so that you can read or follow along if the audio becomes difficult for you to understand. We appreciate your continued support and interest, as we strive to give you the best quality content that we can during these unprecedented times. Episode transcription can be found, along with the full episode show notes at ellekennedyphotography.com/podcast.

Elle: Hi, I’m Elle Kennedy, a birth photographer and doula based in Orange County, California.

Taylor: Hi, I’m Dr. Taylor Garcia, a doctor of chiropractic also here in Orange County, California.

Elle: So today we are talking to Tatiana Koontz. Tatiana is a California Medical Board Licensed Midwife, a certified professional midwife, a monitrice, and a postpartum doula. She owns a home birth midwifery practice in San Diego, called Birth Waves Midwifery, and she’s fluent in Spanish. So Tatiana, is there something specific about birth that’s always lit your fire? What are you most passionate about?

Tatiana: Yea, I think that there are a lot of different topics and a lot of things that I’m passionate about in regards to pregnancy and birth, but one of the big ones is definitely informed choice.

Taylor: So a few weeks ago, we talked to Madalyn Morris, and we talked about consent and advocating, but during our interview with her, we really focused on the advocacy aspect. Today we were hoping to talk to you more about consent. Can you remind our listeners what the difference between consent and informed consent is?

Tatiana: Yea, so consent is agreeing to something. Informed consent agreeing to something after receiving education about the risks and benefits to it.

Taylor: Alright – what is so important about informed consent?

Tatiana: So especially in regards to things that go on with our own bodies, a lot of consent happens around pregnancy, procedures, options with testing… I really feel like it’s important because people don’t understand totally what’s happening with their body or what the medical standard of care is for pregnancy-related tests or procedures, so the importance comes from medical providers having more knowledge than the person who is going through the process with their own body.

Taylor: As a chiropractor, this is actually a big deal. We have to deal with informed consent as well, because what we do is not known by most people, so I totally understand that it is definitely about knowing more than the general populace and wanting to be as educational as possible.

Tatiana: Mm-hmm, exactly.

Elle: So how can we seek to become more informed before we’re entering that birth space?

Tatiana: Oh, that’s a really good question. So, when you are pregnant, you and your partner are becoming parents, and it’s important to own that role of being parents, and starting to make choices on behalf of your child, but also on behalf of your body. And so, taking initiative to understand what is happening to your body and picking a provider that can facilitate that discussion is great. But ultimately, you’re also responsible for doing some research on your own time. Each family has their own values, preferences, philosophies, and so not everybody is going to make the same choice. Everybody has different backgrounds. Some people have had different history of experiences, different medical problems in their past that are going to influence their desires and their choices. But just in general, it’s really important to be informed so that you can start making choices right from the get-go.

Elle: I really like that. I know my partner and I decided to take Bradley Method classes before the birth of my first child, and that was a huge thing that they talked about was informed consent, and giving you, you know, a very thorough education on “this is exactly what is going to be happening physiologically during birth and labor.” But then also backing that up with “here are some things that happen” and making sure that everyone felt empowered to say yes or no to these different things. So, for example, the eye cream they use on babies, or the Vitamin K shot they give to newborns – things like that, that if you… if you aren’t informed about them ahead of time, and you don’t understand what it is, you’re more likely to just say “yes, okay, no big deal, you know, that’s your routine, you do it, nurse or OB or midwife, or whoever it is. Go for it.” But knowing what those things are, what they do, what the risks and the benefits of those things are allowed us to make decisions on a case by case basis. So, for instance, the Vitamin K shot. When babies are first born, they don’t have enough Potassium in their system to facilitate blood clotting properly. Am I getting that right?

Taylor: You are.

Tatiana: Mm-hmm.

Elle: Trying to make sure I’m not mixing up my (laughs)

Taylor: No, no!

Elle: My letters and what not. (laughs)

Taylor: You’ve got it right.

Elle: So they don’t have enough potassium in their blood stream to facilitate clotting properly. For most newborns, this isn’t a big deal, because they’re not going to get cut or anything within the first eight or so days of life before their body builds up enough. So for my daughter, we declined the Vitamin K shot. When I had Teddy, however, Teddy was born with a congenital heart defect, and needed open-heart surgery at four days old. That’s before the Vitamin K has enough time to build up in their system, so it was 100% necessary in that case for the Vitamin K shot to be administered. It absolutely made sense for Teddy to get that. So I think that’s a really big part of informed consent. It allows us to make those decisions based on the individual needs of – not just the pregnant person – but also the children themselves.

Tatiana: Right! Exactly! And as a parent, you are the representative or the voice of your child when it comes to medical concerns or procedures, so it’s really important to get used to that in pregnancy. And I actually recently on social media had a conversation over Instagram Stories about just kind of the first basic thing that happens when you get pregnant and go in to your first appointment, either with your doctor or midwife, and that is the initial lab work that they do. And I asked a question and I was just like “How many of you know what was being tested and why? Like, which tests were they taking and drawing your blood for and what was the reasoning behind it?” And pretty much everybody said they had no idea! Like, they remember kind of getting their blood drawn, but they had no idea what tests were being run or why.

Elle: Yea, I feel like that’s pretty normal.

Tatiana: Yea! And I started, like, looking back on that and I’m like, “Why does nobody know what tests are being drawn?” I mean, we talk a lot about different tests during pregnancy, but the bulk of the tests actually happen during those initial appointments – just kind of establishing a base-line and seeing if there is anything that makes the pregnancy higher risk, or if there’s anything they should watch out for. And yea, I really started reflecting on that with my own clients that I work with who are choosing home birth and I was like “You don’t understand what these tests are and what they mean, so let’s slow down, take a step back, and really start talking about what they are.” And you should be able to make a choice of whether we run this test or not because it’s your body, it’s your blood, it’s about your baby.

Taylor: I feel like a lot of that kind of also comes down to the fact that OBs are often not your primary care doctor. So you may have this doctor you’ve built up this lifetime rapport with, and then you have to go to a completely different doctor that’s brand new to you, and try to build up that same rapport. And because you’re already in a very, you know, new time of your life with being pregnant, you know, that step gets missed. Cuz a lot of, you know, family doctors would tell you, “Hey, I’m testing you for this,” because they already know, you know, they know you, and they know what to tell you and what to talk about. Whereas, again, with an OB being a completely new doctor, and people don’t really know what to ask at that initial step. So, that’s kind of a fallacy of the medical community of not immediately saying “Hey, this is what we’re testing for,” because you technically should! That is part of what informed consent is about, and MDs and OBs should be doing that already. So that is kind of a… that is an interesting fact that they don’t talk about that when they draw your blood the first time.

Tatiana: Right, and a lot of it does come down when you… when discussing about informed consent or informed choice, is not only presenting them with what labs are being taken, but giving them the option to consent to or decline to any of them. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. Like, you can choose “I want these five tests run, and the other ones I decline to,” or “I’m going to do a couple of those tests today, and I can delay other testing until later.” And so, it really is an important thing to be able to start out care on the right foot of making informed choices, and also having a provider that is giving you the care that you want.

Elle: Yea, I really like that. I feel like I came up against that several times in both of my pregnancies of that battle of “Where is the line between what is ‘routine,’ and what is necessary?” Where is it that I can and cannot consent? And I shared about this in the episode where I talked about my own birth story – I went head-to-head with an OB over consent. And I said, you know, “I do not want an IV or a Hep-Lock during labor,” and she was very upset with me, but I held my ground on that one, cuz I did not consent to it. I have really bad panic attacks with needles and I knew if they put an IV or a Hep-Lock in me that my labor was gunna stall because my fight-or-flight instinct was gunna kick in, and I would be in full panic mode, and not able to focus on labor.

Tatiana: Yea, definitely. And that is a huge part of it. It is also questioning “What is routine and why?” You know, just because something is routine or standard of care in the medical community doesn’t mean that that shouldn’t be questioned also. Like, why is that? Generally I think that things that are routine within a care, like even an OB that has a solo practice and private practice, so he is on call – he or she is on call – for their own patients… They are still carrying a huge case-load of, you know, 40, 50 births a month, and that is a lot. And so they have still very short appointment times to be able to make it through, and with that, when there’s decreased interaction time with your clients or patients, that affects the amount of discussions that you can have with them. And I think that’s a huge issue just in health care in general in the US. And just lack of access and lack of conversations happening. But that is a really big part of is, and just the fact that in our health care system, there is a lack of true informed consent. They call it consent, but they don’t actually spend any time going over all of the risks and the benefits. They might highlight one or two before asking for your signature, but they’re not really going over all of them, plus any alternatives, and what are the possible outcomes of declining whatever option they’re presenting you.

Elle: Yea, they’re having you sign something to give your consent. So you’re saying yes to it. You’re agreeing to it. But do you really know what you’re agreeing to? Do you really know the benefits and the risks of what you’re taking on? And that’s something that we have to take back into our own hands and that we have to start taking responsibility for as patients and as parents.

Tatiana: Right, and that’s why I really love… I use more the term informed choice than I do informed consent, because I want to acknowledge that it is a choice, or a decision that they’re making, and it’s not automatically consent. Like, it could be that they’re declining or refusing whatever the option is. And there is something, also, called shared decision-making, which goes along with kind of the choice aspect of… it’s a discussion-based decision and it’s individualized because your provider is taking into account your individual history, your preferences… it can also include your risk tolerance. So, some people, maybe, who have experience loss before don’t have the same perspective of risk as other peoples’ who have never experience a loss before, or complications before. And so all of those things should be individualized when you’re discussing tests, procedures, a plan of care, anything like that.

Elle: Yea, so again, I mean… we… we keep coming back to this. I feel like we keep coming back to this with every guest we have on the show is Individualized Care, and how important it is that every single birthing person is treated as the individual that they are, and not just given generic care.

Tatiana: Yea, and I think that has a lot to do with just, again, it’s standard health care here in the US, there’s just a lot of big practices. So, if you are seeing an OBGYN, you’re probably seeing a practice that could have two, ten, fifty doctors that work within that practice, and so there’s not a lot of continuity in the care that you’re receiving. You’re not seeing the same doctors. And even within some midwifery practices that are like that, too. You could be seeing quite a few midwives throughout your pregnancy, and having to explain your story over and over again, or relying on them to just review your chart before coming in to see you. And there is some loss in the quality of care and individualization that can happen in your care for that. And I think, also, that the better that I get to know my clients, the more those discussions are facilitated, the more we can talk about things, the more it builds trust, and the more that they know I have their, the best care in mind for them and their baby, and also that I value their intuition, because I’ve gotten to know them. So, if they’re feeling that something is off, that is definitely something to take into account also.

Elle: I really like that.

Tatiana: And I think it’s also important to address, too, involving consent, that consent can be withdrawn at any time. Or it can be changed at any time, and just because you consent to something, just like other things in our lives, just because you consent to something doesn’t mean that that is solid and irrevocable. Like, you can withdraw that consent at any time. So, you know, using your IV example, if you did decide to consent to that, but then ultimately decided you didn’t want to go through that, you know, you can say “No, I decline the IV” at any time.

Elle: I think a lot of people actually really struggle with that idea of consent can be revoked, so I’m gunna give, like, a really generic, like, real-world example that will hopefully, like, really illustrate this for people is… Say you are with a partner, and you have this intimacy… this consent for intimacy, whether it’s hugging or kissing or whatever it is, and that’s “normal.” You guys have given consent for that. When you break up, and you’re no longer together, that consent is revoked. That consent has ended. You don’t do those same things with that same person any longer. But that idea translates across the board into every… into anything! You can decide, you know, I’m no longer okay with how somebody talk to me, and you can revoke consent to have conversations with people! You can choose to change how relationships look, but that also translates, like we said, to the medical field. You know, if you’re in labor, you can consent to a vaginal exam, and then have them come in and ask for another one, and say “Nope, we’re done. I don’t want any more of these,” you know, “We’re good now.” That kind of thing. So, it’s… Consent is an ongoing thing. It’s not a one-time decision. It’s a continuous thing that you have to continue to give as time goes on.

Tatiana: Mm-hmm.

Elle: And I think that that’s something that is… that’s an aspect of it that’s kind of overlooked a lot of times.

Tatiana: Yea, definitely. I think timing is a huge part of consent. It also is when and where you’re asking for consent. Are you doing it when somebody is in the middle of a contraction? Are you doing it… Are you asking for additional consent while your fingers are still inside of their vagina doing a cervical exam? Or, you know, are you also – if they say yes – are you waiting for their body to give consent, as well? And a lot of times providers will know what I’m talking about, when you either go to do some kind of vaginal or cervical exam, or place a speculum for like a Pap testing or something like that. You’ll notice that the body can be really tense. And if it’s tense, it’s not giving consent for you to proceed and push forward because if you are pushing forward, you’re going to inflict more pain going forward with that exam. And so it’s important – not only to wait for the person to tell you that they consent to whatever you want to do – but also wait for their body to do it. And it’s just kind of like an IV or blood pressure – you wait for their arm to be available. You wait for, you know, their body to also be ready to proceed. It’s not just what they’re saying. So there’s a lot of different cues to read.

Elle: I am just gunna say… I love you!

(All laugh)

Elle: On the time that we’re recording this, listeners, we have not launched yet. My birth story hasn’t gone out into the world yet. Tatiana doesn’t know my birth story yet, and doesn’t know how… crap, I’m gunna cry…

Taylor: How accurate she’s being

Elle: How… Everything she said… How accurate everything she just said is, and how hard it just hit me… Um… Consent is huge. Consent is so, so, so huge. And you need to find a provider who will respect your verbal consent, but also your bodily consent. It’s so important.

Taylor: People don’t realize that one, like, extra level of bodily consent, that’s not just, you know, the word “Yes. It’s okay.” It’s your body… You know, your mind and your body being ready for that. And as a chiropractor, if we’re adjusting your neck, and you say “Yes,” but you’re still tense as all get-out, we’re not gunna go through with that adjustment, cuz it’s not gunna work. We need that last little relaxation, and a lot of it is trust in your practitioner, trust in what they do. So if someone comes in who’s never had chiropractic, or has only heard bad things about chiropractic, they’re not gunna handle a neck adjustment cuz they’re not gunna, like, trust it.  So, now people don’t realize that last little level of bodily consent, of basically psychological to the body, that people have to give for anything in life.

Tatiana: Yea, and I would say that it is extra important during pregnancy and birth because (1) so many people are going into birth with a history of some kind of trauma. That is just, very common in our society.

Taylor: Unfortunately.

Tatiana: And also… yea, yea… And also, just in typical medical care there’s the authoritative dynamic that a doctor has authority over you and that you are just supposed to be there and submit your body to whatever they want to do to you. And that is definitely not how I approach care. I feel like I’m just kind of a member on their team, and I’m there to guide them. But going along with that – it’s just the acknowledgement and the awareness that it is a very vulnerable state to be in, and a lot of the contact that we’re having with their body is intimate, and can be triggering, and can bring up past trauma. And there’s a responsibility on our part to, as providers, to acknowledge that, and to really model what care should look like, and what they should expect from people that are touching their bodies.

Taylor: Definitely. Especially when it comes to, like you said, the intimacy of, you know, a vaginal exam. And, I mean, it’s… You know, finding a practitioner of any sort that you are comfortable with that – if you have some sort of trauma – that you can discuss about, so that they kind of know what to look for, and know like, if … cuz mistakes happen. So, you know, if you have a practitioner who is going for a vaginal exam – you’ve told them, and they may move in a certain way that just triggers you – to know to back off. To know to that they’ve done something wrong and something needs to be held on pause until you can remember, you know, where you are, what’s going on, and who you’re with. And because of this formula that comes with procedures like birth… an interruption in that formula can be stressful for the doctor, but they need to know hot to adapt and adjust. And some practitioners don’t. They’re just so strict to the formula. They don’t understand that there’s that humanitarian level that basically “Oh, hold on, wait,” you know, there’s a change that has to happen now. And there’s this fallacy in the medical profession where, you know, with all this schooling, and all this knowledge, they have this formula that they follow, and if there’s an error, if there’s a pause in that formula, some doctors can’t adapt, and they need to be able to adapt to when there needs to be a change. And it’s just… It’s a weird thing that in the medical profession that this happens. And, you know, hopefully there’s been, like, there has been some changes in the medical profession. And, you know, this communication, and this consent, and this informed consent has begun to make changes. But still there’s some doctors that just can’t go off the for- go off the script.

Tatiana: Right. And I think that’s an acknowledgement of their lack of exposure to normal physiological birth. They don’t understand all of the mechanisms that are in place. Most of their training has been around very medicalized or very medical-managed births, and so they don’t understand the connections, like Elle was talking about, of being exposed to a needle during her labor could take, you know, her labor totally off track, and ultimately lead to a different outcome. And as a midwife, I definitely understand that, and understand how just one element being off can affect the rest of the care and the rest of the, kind of the rest of the births progress or journey. And I think they just don’t realize all of the smallest of things and how it can just affect… just another person coming in the room, or a word that somebody says when you’re in a really sensitive or vulnerable state, and somebody saying the wrong thing to you, or even just like “Oh wow, this baby has a big head.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell pregnant people that. Or, you know, the ultrasonographer, or the doctor, “Oh, I think this one’s got a big head,” or, you know, “Your partner has a big head, so your baby’s gunna have a big head,” and that gets in their minds because they’re so sensitive and vulnerable that they think, “Oh my goodness, my baby’s gunna have a big head, and I have to push that big head out, and it’s not going to fit.” And so, just even small things like that get embedded and can have just a massive effect on that person’s confidence or on their ability to sink in and really let birth unfold.

Elle: I can’t even tell you how much it bothers me the ultrasound that so many birthing people get, like, a few weeks before their baby is born, and how many people I hear say “Oh my gosh, they’re worried that my baby’s gunna be too big. They said that my baby is already measuring at x weight.” And I always stop and I take a beat and I’m like “Ok, I need you to listen to me right now… This measurements are so inaccurate.”

Taylor: Yup.

Elle: They can be off by as much as three pounds either direction. So when you say, “Oh, you’re 36 weeks, 38 weeks, and your baby’s measuring at 7 pounds. Your baby could be measuring as little as 4 pounds.”

Tatiana: Yea, I actually see it really frequently. Even with sonographers that I trust, I see that they can be just off. When a baby is not able to fit in the whole screen that they’re able to measure, that’s when it becomes more inaccurate. So we’re talking about over halfway of the pregnancy, it’s starts becoming a lot less accurate of being able to do that. And also, the technician who’s taking the measurements. There’s a difference in how people measure – just in technician to technician.

Elle: Yea. I have a friend who gave birth recently, and she was super worried about it. And she came to me, and she was like “Oh my gosh, my baby is measuring at, you know, x weight, and I’m not due for a few more weeks.” And, you know, I told her, I said, “Calm down, it’s okay. Like, it can be wildly off.” And she was… she had a vaginal birth. She’s just fine. The baby measured at just over 8 pounds. Like, not wildly out of, you know, the norm, of what’s a totally normal birth weight. It’s okay!

Taylor: Also, people seem to forget that the birthing body is designed to give birth. It is going to adjust how it needs to give birth. So it doesn’t really matter how big the baby is – the body knows what it needs to do. And, you know, the hormones know how they need to relax the body. It’s all… It’s all pre-programmed in the birthing body to give birth. So weight, head-size, does not really matter as much as people seem to think it does.

Tatiana: Right. Exactly. And it is just a common excuse that doctors give to their patients that ultimately have c-sections and it’s like “Oh, your pelvis is just too small,” and blaming the birthing person. Or “baby is too big,” so blaming genetics, blaming how they grew the baby, blaming whatever… but they just say, “Oh, this is what’s happening, and this is the cause,” when really it could be that baby’s just not in an ideal position. And being told to lay in a bed doesn’t help to facilitate their rotation and their movement through the pelvis to facilitate birth. And it’s just a lot of disconnection, and again, I think a lot of a lack of education of physiological birth from medical providers: nurses and doctors. If they could see what we see in home birth, which is people delivering 10 and 11 and 12 pound babies on their own without any difficulty, then I think that they would have a different perspective on what big babies are and what “big babies” means.

Taylor: We actually watched a video in one of my classes (for the Webster Technique) of a woman giving birth to twins in her bathroom, and one was breeched. And they both came out fine. They both came out healthy. I mean, it was probably a little uncommon, but it was just like… The body knows what to do, and that’s forgotten in the medical community sometimes.

Tatiana: Yea. Breech is just a normal variation of birth. It’s not an emergency by any means, or anything. It’s just the liability has gone up within obstetrics, and that means that they’re not teaching it to OBs that are going through med school, and so the art of delivering breech babies is being lost, and there are so few doctors that are comfortable with it, and have experience with it that it’s a big problem.

Elle: One of the things I remember learning in the Bradley classes we took is: if you think about the classic media portrayal of the woman giving birth, pushing on her back… Who is that convenient for? It’s not physiologically conducive to having a baby. It’s not conducive to the baby itself. The whole time you’re pregnant, they tell you not to lay on your back, because it’s not comfortable and it puts undue pressure on parts of your body and parts of the baby that aren’t great. And yet, that’s how we’re supposed to push? And so I remember my Bradley instructor saying “Who is this good for?” And we realized, the only person it’s convenient for is the person catching the baby.

Tatiana: Mm-hmm.

Elle: Period. It’s the easiest way for them to access catching the baby. But if we look around the world at other cultures who don’t give birth in hospitals, with medical professionals attending, do they give birth like that? No! They don’t! They give birth standing up, squatting down, in all kinds of other positions because that’s what their bodies are telling them to do! And they’re listening to those instincts to birth that baby in the way that feels the best, and is physiologically conducive.

Tatiana: For sure. I mean, if you think about it: when you’re on your back, and you’re delivering, they have great lighting. They have a huge trash bag attached right underneath your butt to catch all poop, all fluids, everything that’s coming out of your body just goes into that trash can. And they’re able to have great visualization, and also to be able to (in their minds) be able to manage the births better, because they think that they are delivering the baby. Where in fact, the birthing person is doing the delivering, and they’re just there to help catch. And I also think that they get away with hiding certain things or doing certain things down there that are kind of “out of sight” without anybody watching, basically.

Elle: So Tatiana, do you have any tips or things that you can tell us about how we can seek informed consent during labor? How can we ask better questions of our providers? How can we make sure we have all the information before making decisions? Things like that.

Tatiana: Ok, so I think what the biggest thing to look for is language: how your provider talks about certain things. Do they use the word allow? “I’m going to allow this,” or “I don’t allow that.” There is no such thing as allowing you to do something with your body. They either support it, or they don’t. But you’re not just allowed to do something. I mean, it’s your body, so you can do whatever you want. I think, also, even when people are – or providers are – giving informed consent, that there can just be a lot of bias in what they’re saying. So even if they’re giving you the options, there’s still ways to sway somebody by the way that you’re talking, by the way that you’re discussing the risks or the benefits. And providers are responsible for staying neutral and providing that true informed consent, and not having it be biased. And one example that I can think of that I thought of recently is how we talk about percentages. I recently… without going into too much detail, had a client whose water broke before she could be in her home-birthing window, and the doctor that was going to be taking over her care, you know, said “Well, we don’t know your GBS status, so you should be induced, and in that case, you’re just going to be treated as positive, because your GBS status is unknown.

Elle: For those of our listeners who don’t know what that is, can you explain?

Tatiana: Sure! So GBS is Group B Strep. It’s a bacteria that is… that is present in the gut of about 30% of pregnant people at any given time. And if babies are exposed to that bacteria, there is a chance that they could get an infection from that bacteria. And so I was just really upset that that was the reason he was giving for an induction – based off of being GBS status unknown because of just the way that the percentages are presented, like “Okay, well, 30% of people are positive at any given time.” Instead of saying, “Well, 70% are negative at any time.” So the majority are negative, but it’s presented as the 30%. Or it’ll say 1-2% of babies that are born to GBS positive birthers will get an infection. So instead of saying 98-99% of babies that are born to a GBS positive person don’t get infections. And I think there’s a lot of, just, bias and influence on the way that things are presented. I also think that people talk about the “consequences” of refusing – I think “refusing” is kind of an interesting word, and I tend to prefer the word “decline.” I think that it sounds like an educated choice in that sense: declining something because you’re educated about it and make that choice rather than “refusing,” which sounds just a little bit more rebellious. And also I think when they talk about the “consequences” of that, it should be the “possible outcomes,” instead of talking about consequences. Like, assuming that there’s a negative response to making that choice. It’s just like, “no, if you choose to decline this test, these are the possible outcomes that come with declining that. This is what could happen if you don’t know.” But that doesn’t need to be necessarily negative.

Elle: Yea, I think our word choice is incredibly important, and I think a lot of providers don’t necessarily think about that when they’re approaching their clients. And I think we need to do a lot of work in that – in figuring out what are our better word choices? You know, what messaging are we sending to our clients? What messaging are they hearing with the choice of words, tone of voice, how we’re approaching things, how we’re choosing to share statistics and information with them?

Tatiana: Yea, exactly. And I think every provider has room for improvement. Even I am, you know, continuously reflecting on how I could be better or how I could provide better information, how I can better empower parents to do the research themselves. I also consider the research options that I present to them and acknowledging that evidence-based material is based off of traditional hospital maternity care and it’s not necessarily outcomes that are based off of physiological birth. So there is a difference there, and acknowledging the resources that I provide is having some level of bias, too. And so, talking to the clients about what evidence-based is, and what is [unintelligible], and just what is my, you know, experience, and what I’ve seen, and letting them know the differences of that. And I think that there also should be an acknowledgment for providers as far as when they give options – acknowledging that some testing can end up providing additional stress that… If you are a provider that is a big proponent for genetic testing – genetic testing isn’t perfect. And so, if somebody comes back with a screening – and there’s also a difference between a person that is screening, and a person that is diagnostic, and I don’t think that is always made clear either… But there are screenings that can come back, and come back with a higher chance of something going on with the baby that is going to change your care plan, it might change your provider, and it’s going to add a whole lot of extra stress during your pregnancy that may or may not even be valid. So I think that there are just a lot of levels of consideration that we should have when consent is given and looking kind of at the holistic picture of its not just getting the data. There are other aspects that come with that, too. So, yea, I feel that as far as choosing a provider, that something you should look for is their language, their ability to spend time and discuss things with you, for consenting to things in labor. The biggest tip that I always give is to ask for a minute. Sometimes that can really help when presented with an option is to ask for a minute. Cuz a lot of times, they’re asking you in the middle of a contraction, you’re usually tired, and going through a lot. You’re not at your best, like, sharpest mental state at that time, and there is that, kind of, authoritarian level that they come in with that is just a different dynamic. And so when you ask them for a minute to discuss your options, you can refuse that kind of energy that is there, and then discuss it with your partner, or whoever is on your team. And then when they come back in the room, you have a more confident answer to give back to them. And I think also just recognizing that you do have power, even within a hospital setting of being able to choose what you do and do not want. And even though something may be standard or routine there, it does not mean that you have to consent to it, and it’s really your choice. It’s your [unintelligible]. There is some responsibility that comes back for choosing to birth in a hospital setting, and you are going to have to fight a little bit more if you are choosing something that is not routine or part of their standard care. So that comes into play as well. And that’s why I encourage people to explore their options while they’re pregnant, and getting educated to really evaluate “Does my provider match up with the type of care that I am seeking?”

Elle: That’s actually one of the huge… one of the reasons I’m a huge proponent of having a birth support person who is not just your partner, but who’s a separate support person. They can kind of help ground you and remind you of, you know, “These were my preferences. I don’t have to give in just because this is a person in, you know, in a position of authority.” I think we’re trained so much to defer to anybody who’s in a position of authority and just “Yes, yes, okay. Whatever you say.” And I think it’s really important if we have that extra person. Have you noticed, since Covid, more people looking towards birthing – either home births or with midwives – because of the lack of allowing birth support persons in hospitals for a long time? I know they’re finally starting to open back up again, but I know for a while they were only offering… or they were only allowing one person, and so most people were having to choose “Do I want my partner there, or do I want a birth support person there?” And I feel like I was seeing a lot of people choosing alternative options so that they had more freedom. Did you notice that as well?

Tatiana: Yea, absolutely! The interest has increased so much because of Covid. A lot of people realizing that a hospital is a place for sick people, and they’re not sick.

Elle: Yea.

Tatiana: And two, they still want to have options, and it’s not only about having a doula or other support person there, but some people don’t want to have to be tested, or don’t want the risk of baby being taken away until they’re test comes back negative. It’s all kinds of stuff going on in the hospital over the last seven months, and I do feel like people are more open to alternatives. That doesn’t mean that all everybody is the best, like, prepared to have a homebirth, because I think there is a different level of preparation that should happen before having a homebirth, and just that awareness. Because many people who are finding a hospital birth don’t do a ton of preparation. They just kind of are ready to show up and be taken care of, and that is not really the way that homebirth works. There is a lot of making your own choices, and choosing what you want, and also a level of having the mindset and the preparation that is important to having a home birth. But yea, I think that has been a good consideration of people who value their birth team, and want their support systems there. And I also have heard some birth workers that have been doing a lot of virtual birth support.

Elle: Yes.

Tatiana: And I think that, you know, doctors and nurses are getting away with a lot more because there isn’t an extra set of education and experienced eyes in the room. You know, doulas provide that level of knowing what’s normal, knowing what’s not, and when parents who, maybe, don’t know any better are there, they’re not gunna get those subtle cues or that subtle pressure, or that manipulation that might be sliding by, and it’s just not the same to be able to support your dream.

Elle: Yea, I totally agree about that. So before we let you go, we have a couple questions we like to ask all of our guests on the show. So first, what is your dream for the birth community?

Tatiana: I would love to see midwifery care be more accessible to all different types of people and all communities, especially minority communities. I would love to see more diverse population of midwives and birth workers, and there be a place for everybody, and it being more equal compared to what it is right now. And I would love for people to be empowered in owning the birth choices that they make, and just see manipulation taken out of birthing rooms. You know, you’re doing the best for your baby, of course everybody is gunna do the best for their baby, so there is a lot of concessions that are made under that guise. And, you know, I don’t think that should be a part of that. So, just people knowing what options they have, and insurance covering all of the options, so that it is more accessible and diverse population of care givers.

Taylor: Yea, that would be great if that could happen! Second question: what is one thing you will do for yourself this coming week?

Tatiana: So something I try to do for myself is plan for some time off, or block time off because I’m on call all of the time for people in their birthing window, and so I try to do things like make a concerted effort to go to the beach one day, or to have a morning where I can sleep in, or different things like that to take care of myself a little extra.

Elle: I love that! I know that Taylor mentioned that when we interviewed her, as well, that one of the things she wanted to do was go to the beach.

Taylor: Heck yea!

(All laugh)

Tatiana: It’s been a crazy summer for beach trips.

Taylor: Ugh, tell me about it!

(Elle and Tatiana laugh)

Elle: So, Tatiana, we wanted to say thank you so much for coming on the podcast and talking with us about consent, and informed consent, and what care should look like. We’re so glad to have you on. Before we go, where can everybody find you to connect with you?

Tatiana: Yea! So my Instagram and Facebook is all Birth Waves Midwifery. My website is birthwavesmidwifery.com and that’s the best way to reach me.

Elle: Awesome! Thank you so much for coming on the show with us today, Tatiana. We loved having you on, and talking about all of this with us!

Tatiana: Yea, thank you for having me! I appreciate it!

Elle: Alright, so we’ll see you next time! Thank you guys, listeners, for joining us, and we’ll see you on the next episode!

Taylor: Bye!
Elle: Bye!

Elle (Outro): Thank you so much for joining us here on Birth Re-Imagined. If you’d like to join our Facebook community, you can find us there at Birth Re-Imagined Family. And if you’d like to join our email list, you can get the link to that on the show notes of this episode. Being a member of our email list gets you access to all our freebies, and makes sure you’re kept in the loop whenever a new episode drops, or we have anything exciting to share. Thanks again, and see you next time!

Cat: (meows)

7. Informed Consent – with Tatiana Koontz

On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor sit down with Tatiana Koontz, a midwife and postpartum doula in San Diego, where they discuss Informed Consent. They dive deep on the difference between consent and informed consent/choice, the importance of individualized care, and how the pregnant body is designed to give birth naturally.

Please note that we had some audio recording issues during part of the today’s episode. If you have any problems understanding the interview, we have transcribed it, and are including a link to the transcription below the embedded episode player below.

On the episode, they discuss the importance of stepping into the role of parent and taking on the responsibility of caring for someone else. This starts during pregnancy, and making sure you understand all of the procedures and tests being run, and why. As parents, it becomes your responsibility to make decisions on behalf of another person on a daily basis, and learning how to ask questions, and how to approach the decision-making process in a way that feels right to you and your family is an important skill, and one you can start honing during pregnancy.

Knowing the benefits and risks of each thing allows you to make decisions on a case by case basis about what is right for you, your child, and your family. Each person and family’s perspectives on risk are different, and taking each individual’s perspective, needs, and desires into account is important because what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily going to be right for everyone. A great example of this is the decision to get/reject the Vitamin K shot for infants. Vitamin K (potassium) is a necessity to help with clotting in the case of a cut or injury. Infants are not born with enough Vitamin K in their bloodstream to facilitate clotting, and don’t produce enough until they are about 8 days old. For my (Elle) first child, it didn’t make sense to give her a Vitamin K shot because there was no reason to believe she would be injured and need blood clotting within the first 8 days of life. My second child, however, was born with a congenital heart defect and needed open-heart surgery at 4 days old. In this case, it 100% made sense to give the Vitamin K injection based on this child’s individual needs.

Another thing they dive deep on is bodily consent. Tatiana talks about how the body doesn’t just give verbal consent, but that there is a deeper, more visceral consent that needs to be given by the relaxation of the body in the face of procedures. For instance, even if a laboring person gives consent for a vaginal exam, if their body hasn’t relaxed (bodily consent), a forceful exam can be extremely painful and triggering. Consent isn’t just verbal.

“Each family has their own values, preferences, philosophies, and so not everybody is going to make the same choice.” – Tatiana

“As a parent, you are the representative or the voice of your child when it comes to medical concerns or procedures, so it’s really important to get used to that in pregnancy.” – Tatiana

“It’s important not only wait for the person to tell you that they consent to whatever you want to do, but also wait for their body to do it.” – Tatiana

“You need to find a provider who will respect your verbal consent but also your bodily consent. It’s so important!” – Elle

“The birthing body is designed to give birth… weight, head size, really doesn’t matter as much as everyone seems to think it does.” – Taylor

“Breech is just a normal variation of birth.” – Tatiana

“There is no such thing as allowing you to do something with your body. They either support it, or they don’t.” – Tatiana

Listen to the episode here.

Read the audio transcription here.

Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Tatiana is a California Medical Board Licensed Midwife, Certified Professional Midwife, monitrice and postpartum doula. She owns a home birth midwifery practice in San Diego called Birth Waves Midwifery. She is fluent in Spanish.

Tatiana has devoted her life to birth and postpartum work since she trained as a doula in 2006 and has been privileged to walk with hundreds of families on parts of their special journeys. She has a deep love for postpartum support, helping families transition as they integrate their babies and overcome challenges. Tatiana has a passion for birth options, informed consent, improving connections within families, and building their community.

You can find her on Instagram @birthwavesmidwifery and Facebook at Birth Waves Midwifery and on her website birthwavesmidwifery.com

Resources related to today’s episode:

Bradley Method classes

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

6. Mikki’s Birth Story – Precipitous Birth

On today’s episode of Birth Re-Imagined, Elle and Taylor sit down with Mikki Bell, a birth doula and childbirth educator in the South Bay, where Mikki shares the birth story of her oldest child. Mikki shares why she chose home birth for her children, her dramatic water breaking moment at LAX, and the importance of doing a “run-through.”

One of the things they discuss is using labor lines instead of vaginal exams to tell how far along labor is progressing. Labor lines are a dark red or purple line that extends upward from the butt crack up the back, and gets darker and longer as labor progresses. Not everyone has labor lines (roughly 75% of birthing people have them), but they are a different way to assess labor progress without the invasiveness and risks associated with vaginal exams.

They also discuss the use of a TENS Unit during labor to help take the edge off of contractions. A TENS Unit is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and is used to treat everything from back pain to menstrual cramps to labor pain. A TENS Unit floods the nerves with small electrical impulses along the spine so that the brain is distracted by the sensation in the spine instead of focusing on the uterine contraction.

They discuss the importance of setting yourself up for your best birth by doing the work and making sure you are well-informed and well-supported going into your birth. More information and more support means being better prepared no matter the way your birth progresses.

“Make sure that you are very well supported for your birth.” – Mikki Bell

“Do a little work beforehand and really set yourself up for a well-informed, well-supported birth.” – Mikki Bell

“Helping connect people with support systems they might not even know are available to them.” – Elle Kennedy

“I didn’t even know that there were so many different kinds of birth workers out there that offer ALL kinds of different support.” – Elle Kennedy

Listen to Mikki’s Birth Story here.

 Join the Birth Re-Imagined Family Facebook group to engage with other open-minded parents, connect with birth professionals in the Southern California area, and stay up to date on our newest episodes as they drop every week!

Today’s guest:

Mikki Bell is a birth doula and childbirth educator in the South Bay and on the west side of Los Angeles. She and her husband have had three mini versions of themselves all born swiftly and safely at home.

You can find her on Instagram @thedoulabell.

Resources related to today’s episode:

Husband Coached Childbirth (Bradley Method book)

Birthing Pool

Labor Lines

Rebozo

TENS Unit

Different Birth Positions

Who are Elle and Taylor?

Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.

Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.

Contact Elle:

Instagram: @elle.kennedy.photography

Website: ellekennedyphotography.com

Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography

Contact Taylor:

Website: birthandbeyondchiro.com

Email: taylorjgarcia@att.net

Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC

Looking for More Content?

Check out Episode 5: Chiropractic for Pregnancy – with Dr. Taylor Garcia, where hosts Elle and Taylor dive into the Webster Technique, what chiropractors do and don’t do, and how chiropractic care addresses the physiological health of the pregnant person (and the baby) during pregnancy and during labor.