Episode 015 - Creating a Birth Plan - Part II

In Part II of our Birth Plan episode, Laura and Mellisa get deep into what happens when things don't go as planned.  Using the BRAIN evaluation tool for making choices during childbirth, we help you explore both your philosophical approach to labor as well as how you handle changes of plan.


If nothing else, we want to get across the concept of holding your birth with open hands - this frees you from the possibility of being disappointed in yourself, your care providers, or the outcome itself if things deviate from the plan in any way.

You can count on us to tell it how we see it - from the perspectives of both a mom who has completed several variations of a "birth plan" and from a labor and delivery nurse who sees the impact they have all the time!

In This Episode:

  • Learning the BRAIN way of evaluating choices, alternatives and "changes of plan" in labor
  • It's ok to ask for time to evaluate things on your own (when there's time), even without your doula
  • Collaboration with your support team can help you feel confident in your birth choices
  • It's an ongoing dialogue, not a closed conversation.  There are very few one-way tickets in labor
  • How important it is to have conversations about your birth preferences with your care provider BEFORE you are in labor
  • Listen to your body in labor - what's actually working for you?  There's no way to know until you're in it
  • Most newborn care can happen while baby is skin-to-skin unless there's an emergency
  • Don't neglect the pediatric care portion of planning
  • If a birth plan becomes about control instead of confidence, it can negatively affect the outcome and experience
  • A birth plan can be a powerful bridge in a hospital setting if it's done right

Show Notes:

Mama Natural's visual birth plan

Mama Natural's visual birth plan

Stage by Stage Birth Plan

Another Stage by Stage Birth Plan (PDF)

Easy, Customizable Birth Plan from Earth Mama

Visual Birth Plan from Mama Natural

When Birth Doesn't Go As Planned - an article written by Mellisa about drilling down to what really matters about your desired birth experience

Tips for a Gentle Cesarean Birth - having a cesarean birth doesn't mean that your preferences don't matter any more




Episode 014 - Creating a Birth Plan - Part I

In this episode, Laura and Mellisa dive deep into the why, what and how of a birth plan.  We talk both about the birds eye view and the nitty gritty - and how a birth plan can be relational instead of confrontational.

Part 1 of a 2 part episode, this conversation will get you thinking about your motivations and beliefs about birth, as well as reframing what the benefits of "planning" ahead really are.

It's our goal to get you thinking about what's important to you about birth, helping you reframe the way we approach goals and preferences around birth, and giving you the tools to evaluate your birth options successfully and in collaboration with your birth team.

You can count on us to tell it how we see it - from the perspectives of both a mom who has completed several variations of a "birth plan" and from a labor and delivery nurse who sees the impact they have all the time!

In This Episode:

  • A birth plan is not just for the birthing mother
  • A birth plan is not just for labor and delivery but also for postpartum and newborn care
  • How detailed you get really depends on personality
  • How planning for birth is like planning for a camping trip
  •  One of the best benefits is getting a chance to think through the different scenarios and how you will react if things DON'T go according to plan
  • On the other side of everything you don't want is something you DO want - proactive vs defensive
  • A birth plan can be a bridge
  • Talking to your care provider about your preferences and their style/model/perspective
  • How a doula can help evaluate birth choices and preferences

Show Notes:

Mama Natural's visual birth plan

Mama Natural's visual birth plan

Episode 013 - The Roller Coaster of Fostering & Adoption

After years of unfertility and wondering why this wasn't happening for her, Megan and her husband finally did testing and had to face that having children wasn't going to happen easily.  For a time, they decided not to do anything other than wait and see.

Inspired by a few different people, the couple eventually made the difficult decision not to pursue fertility treatments but instead to open their home to foster children.  They knew that this would be a challenging and often heartbreaking endeavor - and their families were initially concerned for their emotional wellbeing.  Megan and her husband knew that this is what they were meant to do and that no matter how hard it may be to have children they loved come and go, that they were willing to open their hearts and their home.

What follows is an incredibly inspiring and emotional journey through the ups and downs of falling in love with each baby that came into their lives and not knowing what the outcome would be.  Megan talks about the emphasis on reconciliation with birth families and how heartbreaking that can be, especially when it can sometimes be in conflict with what seems to be best for the child.  Learning to advocate for her foster children has been an important part of her motherhood journey.

The dramatic story of adopting their first foster child is one you cannot miss - Megan shows the fierce love she possesses and her passion for fully loving each child no matter how long they are with her - "Today you're here and we love you today". 

In This Episode:

Screenshot 2017-06-11 19.10.17.png
  • Getting creative with photographing your kids when you aren't allowed to show their faces
  • The nightmare days when they were separated from their first foster son and he didn't eat or drink
  • Having to accept that they couldn't control what happened to these precious children
  • How their families came around to supporting them in their choice to become foster parents
  • Deciding not to take on special needs children and later learning their first foster son had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • The emotional battle of constantly advocating for your children

image 1.JPG

Episode 012 - Infertility, Loss and Survivors Guilt

Rebekah knew early on that her inability to get pregnant wasn't just a fluke that would easily pass.  And as time went on and testing didn't reveal anything clear, they were left without a lot of hope or clarity as they began to explore options.

She went through a long season where coping with the continual disappointment and pain was incredibly hard to deal with.  This was time was also hard on her relationship with her husband.  Facing this was so raw and she had a hard time reaching out to friends and family, leading to finding amazing support through online communities for infertility.  

1 round of Clomid and 4 rounds of IUI later, they weren't any closer to their hoped for child.  At the point that they were considering IVF, after almost 5 years of trying to get pregnant, Rebekah randomly decided to take a pregnancy test and found out she was pregnant.  Completely shocked by this outcome, Rebekah then entered the overwhelming and unfamiliar territory of navigating pregnancy and dealing with survivors guilt among the infertility support groups she had been a big part of over the years.

Rebekah ultimately had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby - but you won't want to miss the story of her long, challenging and unmedicated labor!  

In This Episode:

  • Why Infertility is like being at the craps table with a 20 sided die
  • It doesn't help to tell someone "just relax and it'll happen"
  • How hard it is on a relationship to be constantly in this cycle of hope and disappointment
  • You never know who's going to show up for you
  • Dealing with "Survivors Guilt" when you do finally get pregnant
  • How hearing "If you two really want to be parents you can be parents" was at first frustrating but later comforting
  • Why she wanted to have an unmedicated birth after years of infertility
  • How having a baby made her feel really dependent and vulnerable, which she was not used to

Show Notes:

Information on IUI

Information on IVF

image 1.JPG

Episode 011 - The Infertility Sample Platter

Jess's brush with death in her early 20's and subsequent management of lupus and stage 4 kidney disease set the stage for fertility challenges when she was finally ready to become a mother.  Faced with the choice to do emergency chemotherapy knowing that there wasn't time to harvest her eggs and she would likely never be able to carry a child, she moved forward: "you can't be a parent if you aren't alive".

With a lot of determination and heart, not to mention no small amount of heartbreak, Jess's journey to motherhood includes most of the possible paths available to those dealing with infertility.  She shares candidly about managing her chronic illness and making decisions with that in mind, loss and vulnerability, and the beautiful gift of surrogacy that finally brought her daughter to her.

Find out how Jess and her husband are trying to expand their family again!  This powerful story inspires the courage that it takes to be a mother - from the big, hard decisions to the showing up every day for our kids.

Show Notes:

(After Lupus caused her kidneys to fail in 2004, Jessica Goldman Foung refocused her life and work to study food, health, and the many ways they interact. She began SodiumGirl.com in 2009 to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life.)  Here are links to her work:

Jess's website

BOOKS! Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook and Low-So Good

WORDS! Food52theKitchnHuffington PostFood NetworkAmerican Heart AssociationLean In

VIDEOS! Access Hollywood LiveDr. OzFood52 LIVEBetter TVABCNational Kidney Foundation 1National Kidney Foundation 2National Kidney Foundation 3

image 2.jpg

Episode 010 - The Moment We Knew Things Would Never Be "Normal"

Stephanie was excited, like any mother, to see her baby at her 20 week ultrasound.  When the ultrasound tech showed concern and then called in a doctor, Stephanie and her husband knew their world was about to change.

They learned that their daughter had a rare congenital condition called Fibular Hemimelia, where the fibula bone is short or missing (along with associated bone length discrepancies).  The news that their daughter would likely have to have her leg amputated early in life was very difficult to hear - but Stephanie and her husband were able to remain positive.

Stephanie's storytelling of Charlotte's first surgery is poignant and emotional.  Thrown right off the bat into the deep end of parenting, she has learned how to let go of control, focus on her bond with her daughter, and accept what normal is for their family.  Yearly prosthesis changes, hospital visits and helping her daughter advocate for herself are all part of theirs!

We learned that we need to keep tissues in the studio - and we think this episode will give you all the feels too.


Show Notes:

Info about Fibular Hemimelia

Episode 009 - Navigating Family Expectations

Carolina had heard all about what it would be like to have a baby from her grandmother - and had no idea how it was setting her up to have her expectations sorely disappointed.  As she struggled through the initial months of motherhood, she found herself confronting these expectations one by one.

In this episode, we talk about trying to fit your family (and child) into a mold that doesn't actually work for you, and learning to accept who your child is and what's going to work for your unique family.  Now, with her second child, Carolina has learned a lot about going with the flow and speaking up for herself in a traditional, outspoken family.

Sleep when the baby sleeps only works if the baby sleeps, we discover in this conversation - it's full of relatable tidbits that every mother will find encouraging!

Show Notes:

Carolina's Article at The Good Mother Project

Episode 008 - Choosing Your Birth Team

In today's episode, Laura and Mellisa do something a little different - we have a one-on-one conversation sharing our thoughts on how to choose who you want to be at your birth.  This episode gets at the heart of why labor support is important and how much of an impact who is present and how they show up can have... 

We talk about the pros, cons and personal considerations of anyone you may choose to have at your birth - from mothers-in-law to children, and even go deep on the sensitive subject of "what if my partner isn't able to be the kind of support I need?".  Whether you're pregnant or may be in the future, this episode is a must-listen.  Plus, it turns out we're kinda funny.  ;)

We're also excited to share that we're doing our first ever Instagram Giveaway this week - we've teamed up with the talented Lindsay Gilmore over at www.lindsaygilmore.com.  We will be giving away one of her custom portraits - head over to our Instagram account (@motherbirth.co) for all the details and to participate!  The contest ends on May 9th at 9pm PST and we'll be announcing the winner the next day.


Episode 007 - When Birth Goes Upside Down

This week’s episode features Danielle Mayfield. Her unique journey to motherhood began with an experience that can only be described as what happens when things go upside down. Danielle’s pregnancy wasn’t as dreamy as she had heard it would be - in fact, she kind of hated being pregnant.  When she was around 33 weeks pregnant, she wasn’t feeling well and was sent to the hospital by the urging of neighbors and her midwife to discover she was in hypertensive crisis that developed into HELLP syndrome.

On today’s episode, she shares that journey and the experiences in her life that have informed her ability to embrace the births she was given and look back on those seasons and find the lovely things that came from her trauma.

My reality happened and I couldn’t do anything.

Laura says: Danielle was the type of girl I wanted to meet. Pink hair, cool Myspace page. She worked the front desk of my college library. She always seemed to know something I didn’t and that thing was her calling. Danielle knew then and lives now a life that is given to the poor. Danielle began working with refugees around the same time I was surfing her Myspace and reading her BlogSpot.   

She has since, with her family, carved out a life and a ministry to the growing population of refugees in Portland, Minneapolis and Portland again. This has brought her to a conclusion that the best way to live life is with downward mobility.


Danielle is an incredibly gifted writer who has chronicled parts of her journey in the upside down kingdom in a book: Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith. Buy her book

Show Notes:

Danielle  regularly writes about her life and work. She shares her views on faith, refugee politics, social norms and privilege on her Blog and on  Twitter and even the Facebook. 

On the show we discuss HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia. It is important that if you have any concerns about your health you contact your provider but we also want to say these conditions are rare. May is preeclampsia awareness month and we'll be sharing more on social media over the coming weeks!

We also talk about Maternal and Infant Mortality world wide and here in the US. The most important thing we can do is advocate for women's health care. Regular preventative women's health care is the most powerful intervention to reduce maternal and infant mortality. 

Find a way to join the fight for equality for women in healthcare and see what is being done: International Justice Mission; Women's Refugee Commission ;Planned Parenthood ; CARE; Global Fund For Women ; Engender Health. If none of these organizations are for you find one at Charity Navigator.

Episode 006 - Coming Back from Postpartum Psychosis

When Lisa gave birth to her daughter, she had no idea that within a few weeks she would be admitted to the psychiatric ward due to severe postpartum psychosis.  In this week's episode, we explore her story of hitting rock bottom, finding hope and health, and learning to understand her own needs so that she could be there for her daughter as well.

Lisa is passionate about maternal mental health and setting mothers up for success during the intense transition after birth.  She advocates for taking advantage of resources and family/community structures that allow mothers to adjust and account for their individual needs, whatever those may be.  She learned the hard way that you can't always just "power through".

Lisa is an entrepreneur, executive coach and advocate for maternal mental health. She founded Wise Mama and co-founded Mindfulness Based Achievement, the New MBA, which teaches high potential women leaders how to create sustainable success. 

Show Notes:

Lisa's Website: Wise Mama

Lisa's Tedx Talk

The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave

The guide contains:

  1. Negotiate your Leave and Request the Longest Leave Possible
  2. Honor your Leave and Allow Yourself to be Offline Completely
  3. Prioritize Sleep
  4. Talk With Your Partner, Even About the Stuff That’s Hard To Talk About
  5. Throw Away Your Mile High Expectations
  6. Find Your Working Mom Tribe
  7. Get Comfortable Asking for Help
  8. Plan For More Help Than You Think You Need

Lisa was recently honored as one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide by EBW.

Episode 005 - Body Love & Plus Size Birth

This weeks guest is a body love advocate and childbirth educator whose passion is creating resources and community for plus size moms after her own experience of pregnancy and birth as a plus size mom.

When Jen was pregnant she was shocked to realize that there weren't any positive or supportive online resources for plus size pregnancy, and that navigating health care relationships and choices was tremendously difficult due to the biased assumptions that care providers made about her and her health.

She was determined to have an normal, natural birth, however, and spent her pregnancy preparing physically, emotionally and mentally.  Not only did she experience a beautiful, empowered birth, she also used this transformative experience to guide her towards the work she does today.  

Jen has helped many women find support, guidance and community during their motherhood journey, and she shares her story with a compassion and eloquence that is moving.  Her mission will resonate with all mothers regardless of size - we all struggle with loving our bodies through the transitions of motherhood.    

Show Notes:

Plus Size Birth - Jen's Website

My Plus Size Pregnancy Online Course - Listen to the episode for a special discount for our listeners!

Guide to Size Friendly Providers - Subscribe here

BRAIN Acronym - a helpful tool for making decisions during labor

Peachie Moms - Jen's Body Love Project

IBCLC - Lactation Consultant Resources

Amy Schumer Video - Mom Compliments ;)

10 Tips for Body Love

Episode 004 - Finding Balance as a Working Mom

In this week's episode, we get into the nitty gritty of being a working mom with Steph Crowder, a mom and entrepreneur who was fed up with the images she saw of motherhood in the workplace and decided she wanted to carve out her own space as a working mom.

Steph was always drawn to meaningful work, and while building her career she wasn't sure how she'd be able to balance also being a mother, or if she even wanted to.  Later, when she knew she did want to be a mom, she knew she wasn't willing to just accept the status quo, and intentionally began to shift her lifestyle (and perspectives) in thoughtful preparation for starting a family.

We talk about getting creative, using your intuition to really figure out what's going to work for your family, and the incredible importance of maternal/family leave.  For anyone who is trying to balance being a working mom, you cannot miss this episode!  Steph is a gifted communicator and her journey will resonate with everyone.

Steph with Madelyn in Ireland this spring

Steph with Madelyn in Ireland this spring

Episode 003 - Choosing Homebirth

This week, we talk with Amber Christopher, a mother of two girls in Portland, OR who delivered both of her babies at home.


For some this would warrant a very important question; WHY? Why would you have a baby at home when you could be SAFE and in a HOSPITAL? 

Amber, like many women exploring options for birth, felt that having her baby at home is what would be best for her and her family. She is not alone: "the rate of birth at home increased by 20% in the U.S. in the 2000s" according to the New England Journal of Medicine.  Amber shares her story and experience of working with her midwives, her husband Daniel and feeling like this was the best choice for her and her family. 

Show Notes:

Here are some resources to check out relating to the safety and considerations of homebirth.

Birth Outcomes for Planned Out-Of-Hospital Births

Evidence for Homebirth 

Danielle, Amber, Eleanor and June enjoying our snowy winter. 

Danielle, Amber, Eleanor and June enjoying our snowy winter. 

Eleanor, Amber and June enjoying their favorite season Summer. Photos by :  https://alyssaelliott.co

Eleanor, Amber and June enjoying their favorite season Summer. Photos by :  https://alyssaelliott.co

Episode 002 - Surviving Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

This week's episode features speaker and writer Nish Weiseth, who shares the story of suffering with severe postpartum depression when her first child was born, resulting in a near suicide attempt.

Nish was able to get help and begin the journey of managing her mental health as a new mother.  Later, with her second child, she experienced postpartum anxiety.  She shares her insights on the differences between these two common postpartum mood disorders, and her heart for mothers to find the support they need and not compromise on self care.

Nish lives in Salt Lake City with her family, where she makes waves as a writer, speaker and editor.  She has a powerful voice as an advocate for many different causes, including inclusive spirituality and special needs.  You can find more info on her at www.nishweiseth.com, and can check out her book on the power of telling your story here: Speak.

Episode 001 - A Tale of Two Births

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear the courage and strength this woman displayed in her two birth stories and different roles as a mother. 

 On this week’s episode, we are talking with Beka Overby.  As you will see in her story, Beka’s journey as a mother has taken many unexpected turns.  Birth as a teenager and birth as a thirty-year-old are bound to be polarizing but Beka’s huge heart and vulnerability in this episode is what makes her story so special.  Beka lives in Portland, OR with her husband Seth and her son Jones.

Show Notes:

Beka shares in her story how she met an amazing woman who helped her and Seth decide to welcome Jones with confidence in an unmedicated birth. Amy Aldrete works here in Portland as a childbirth doula and you can contact her at fearnotbirth@gmail.com or on IG: @fear.not.birth. 

A Short and Sweet Introduction to Your Hosts and the Show!

Welcome to the first, introductory, episode of MotherBirth!  In this episode Laura and I introduce ourselves and share some details of our dream for this podcast and what it will be.

This will NOT be the typical format/flow of the podcast, and this episode is just a chance for you to hear a little more from us on the vision and direction of the show.  It's short and sweet, and a great little introduction.

You'll also see the next episode that has been released - our first guest interview - which is what listeners can expect from typical weekly episodes!

Thanks for listening, and don't forget to rate us in iTunes and subscribe to the show in your podcast app!