This week on the Mommy Labor Nurse Podcast, I had Alexandra Cunningham from the This Family Tree podcast come on the show to share her birth stories. After I was on her podcast a few months ago, she and I hit it off really well, so it only made sense to have her come on!
What I love about Alex’s birth stories is that, in her words, they were very medicalized births but her medicalized births were extremely positive. She didn’t feel that any beauty was taken away from her experience despite how it all went down.
So often we share the beauty of unmedicated births, so getting the chance to hear and elevate this amazing and wonderful, medicalized birth story was an absolute must!
I want every mama to have a positive birth experience, no matter how she chooses to birth. Because birth IS beautiful no matter what. Let me share some of the highlights from our conversation!
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Alexandra’s medical history and first pregnancy
At the start of the episode, I ask Alex to talk a bit about how she found out she was pregnant the first time and what the experience was like. Alexandra did not disappoint with a hilarious story of the night she and her husband conceived (no explicit details were shared, hah!).
But then she got into a bit of her background because at age 23 Alexandra was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, lupus. At the time of her diagnosis, Alex was told she may never have children. Not only was this completely untrue for Alex, but it’s also untrue for many women with autoimmune diseases!
She goes on to explain what she has learned about autoimmune diseases and pregnancy and the way that it can affect flare-ups. Interestingly, it was a flare-up of some of her symptoms that first tipped Alex off that she might be pregnant!
When you tune in you’ll hear her talk about how she shared her pregnancy news with her husband and family, and a bit about the rather extreme pregnancy symptoms she experienced – including what she called “exploding mouth blisters” – yikes!
Related: Weird Pregnancy Symptoms
Alex’s experience with amniocentesis
As Alex continued to share about her pregnancy, she talked about how at her 12-week scan she was told that there was a 1 out of 180 chance that her baby would have a chromosomal abnormality. She talked through their decision to pursue further testing via amniocentesis.
I really loved the way Alex talked about this decision. So often, people will ask why you would do further testing because “Would you really love your baby any less?” But the fact is that it is about SO much more than that.
Alex so poignantly explained how it wasn’t about loving her baby, but it was about how the knowledge would help her be a better parent. She would be able to get educated about how to best care for her baby if they did have a chromosomal abnormality, make changes to her house, etc.
This perspective is so important to share for any woman out there facing a similar decision about further testing after an abnormal scan.
When you listen in, you’ll hear Alex and I talk about the process of amniocentesis, what it’s for, and what the experience was like for her. In the end, her baby did not have a genetic abnormality, but she had no regrets and was so happy she decided to go through with the testing.
Her first birth
Alex talks about how her pregnancy progressed with some scares during the third trimester related to a potential heart condition. Again, fortunately, her baby was okay, but there were a lot of bumps throughout her pregnancy for sure. Towards the end of her third trimester, there was concern about her baby not growing, and her team recommended that they do an induction a bit before her due date.
So, one week before her due date, Alex had a medical induction of labor. You’ll hear Alex talk about what that process was like and the different methods they used. She had a wonderful memory of the meal she and her husband shared the night they placed her Foley bulb – the last meal they ate together as a couple without children.
The next day they started her on Pitocin and things took off. Alex shared her experience of birthing in a teaching hospital, her epidural placement, and how just two hours after her epidural was placed baby was here. She pushed for 12 minutes, and baby Lucy was born!
Because Lucy was coming so fast her perineum wasn’t stretching, and they asked her if she wanted an episiotomy. It was interesting to hear Alex talk about how she didn’t know what that was and wished she had researched all the possible interventions a little more! She didn’t regret getting an episiotomy but didn’t know what she was agreeing to either.
Related: Episiotomy vs. Natural Tearing
Her second birth
“People I think when they think of medicated births, and births with a lot of intervention. I think in our minds, a lot of beauty gets stripped away from that. Betty is my youngest and her [birth] was very similar. The only difference is that 15 minutes after I got my epidural, she came flying out.
So, I got my epidural, and here’s the thing, like, I went in and was on a Pitocin drip – wasn’t feeling anything, started getting contractions, got the epidural after like, a half-hour of contractions just because I knew I wanted it out of the way.
15 minutes after the epidural I called the doctor. I was like, this is coming. I feel like have to poop, but that’s probably the baby. And then five minutes of pushing and three pushes, and she was out. And, like, again, so beautiful.”
Alex’s positive perspective on medical birth
What was so amazing, and you really have to tune in to understand it, is the way that Alex’s story is SO positive and she has such wonderful memories of her birth, even with all of the medical interventions that occurred.
Here is a quote from the episode,
“So I had, you know, heavily medical, heavily watched and supervised pregnancies, I had a high risk birth surrounded by a lot of medical staff, I had interventions, I had inductions, and it doesn’t take away, even in the slightest from the beauty of the birth.
And that’s one thing I hear people are so scared to have their birth differ from their dream and to have to get a C-section or be induced or have an episiotomy because they’re like, oh, like, you know, I failed, or it’s not as natural and as beautiful as I wanted it to be.
It is so freakin beautiful.”
We wrap up the episode talking more about this, and the fact that birth IS beautiful no matter how it unfolds, especially if you go into it with a positive mindset. I just loved getting to hear Alex’s story and the wonderful messaging behind it.
About Alexandra Cunningham
Alex co-hosts the popular lifestyle podcast, This Family Tree with her husband, Shane. They live in Canada together with their two daughters, Lucy and Betty.
You can connect with Alex:
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