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Cleft Lip & Palate, Healing Induction with Epidural + Birth Center Birth During COVID


July 2018 – Christian Grace. Aubrey and her husband, Chris, felt so fortunate to have conceived their daughter the first month they decided to try and start a family. The first trimester was relatively smooth other than some bad morning sickness. Aubrey was 17 weeks along when she found out her daughter would be born with a cleft lip and palate. Aubrey and Chris were scared, and they spent the rest of the pregnancy learning everything they could about the diagnosis, interviewing with surgical cleft teams, and going to double the appointments as they were seeing their OB and a perinatologist.

After discussing a birth plan with her OB, Aubrey agreed to an induction at 39 weeks so that a NICU team could be prepped and ready in case of an emergency. Aubrey and Chris checked into the hospital at close to midnight on July 5th. They started Aubrey on cervadil to soften her cervix, which caused some intense back-to-back contractions. They removed the cervadil after only 4 hours because it had worked so affectively; then they began Pitocin to start labor. Pitocin was administered around 7am, and shortly after Aubrey received the epidural she had planned to have. Aubrey and Chris spent the next 12 hours spending time together and watching each contraction come and go on the monitor. They had an amazing nurse that took great care of them, was mindful of their birth preferences, and who was sympathetic towards their feelings about their daughter’s cleft.

cleft lip cleft palate birth

Around 6pm, it was time to start pushing! Aubrey pushed for about 45 minutes – and then their daughter, Christian Grace, was born! Christian was born at 7:13pm, weighing 7 pounds 2 ounces and 20.5 inches long. The entire pregnancy, labor, and delivery was very emotional for Aubrey, and it was an incredible feeling to have her daughter safely in her arms. Other than a brief check by the NICU team after delivery, the NICU team was not needed. Aubrey and Chris got to enjoy their delayed cord clamping and golden hour with their baby girl.

Other than a 2nd degree tear and some swelling from the fluids/medications from the induction, recovery went relatively smooth. Overall, Aubrey’s birth was a healing experience after a physically and emotionally draining pregnancy. 

Christian’s Birth Video/Blog

May 2020 – Heidi Blake. After 6 months of trying to conceive, Aubrey finally got pregnant with her second child. Although she loved her first pregnancy/delivery, she hoped for her next delivery to look different. Ideally, she wanted a spontaneous birth, no epidural, and to labor freely around her room. Aubrey interviewed with a midwife at a birth center, but she didn’t really feel like it was a good fit and assumed a hospital birth was her best option. Around 7 weeks, Aubrey had a huge bleed at home and feared she was losing her baby. The next day she was diagnosed with a very large subchorionic hematoma and advised to “take it easy” for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Aubrey and Chris spent a lot of the pregnancy anxiously wondering if the SCH would negatively affect the pregnancy. During the second trimester, Aubrey was frustrated that her OB wasn’t supportive of her birth preferences. The OB told her it would be too difficult to catch the baby if Aubrey decided to deliver on her hands and knees, and the OB also suggested that Aubrey wouldn’t be able to go the whole labor unmedicated. Then COVID hit and lockdowns went into place. Hospital policies were changing on a daily basis, and Aubrey hated that she would only be able to have her husband in the delivery room – not her mom, her doula, or her birth photographer. So Aubrey decided to interview with one more midwife/birthing center. It was an INSTANT connection, and Aubrey felt immediately respected, heard, and cared for. She switched from her OB to the midwife at 30 weeks pregnant. She also decided to get a doula to help prepare her for and coach her through an unmedicated birth.

The quality of prenatal care she received from her midwife was unlike anything she received from her OB. After 3 membrane sweeps and going 6 days past her due date, Aubrey’s water finally broke at home on May 20th, 2020 at around 2pm. She immediately notified her midwife, doula, mom, and birth photographer. After laboring at home for an hour, they got in the car to head to the birth center. Traffic and construction made the drive much longer, and the contractions in the car were super painful. However, the atmosphere the moment they walked in the birth center completely switched the mood. The lights were dimmed, her labor playlist was on, essential oils were going, and the bath tub was running.

Aubrey spent about an hour leaned over either a birthing ball or the bed, swaying her hips during each contraction. Her husband was massaging her back, mom was fanning her face, and doula was using peppermint essential oils to help with the nausea and offering words of encouragement and a cool rag. Around 4pm, Aubrey decided she wanted to get in the bath. The contractions immediately felt more manageable. Soon, Aubrey felt like it was time to push. After 15 minutes of pushing, their daughter Heidi was born into her daddy’s hands. Heidi Blake was born May 20th, 2020 at 5:01pm. She weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces and was 21 inches long.

birth center birth during covid

Aubrey and Heidi enjoyed their golden hour in a fresh, herbal bath. It was everything Aubrey ever could have hoped for. Overall, Aubrey loved both of her, very different, births. She doesn’t advocate for any type of birth over the other. Instead, she hopes that women have the options and knowledge to decide what birthing preferences and prenatal care would work best for them. She also urges women not to settle for less than exceptional prenatal care and to interview several OBs and midwives to find the right fit. 

Heidi’s Birth Video/Blog

Aubrey Gann

Aubrey is a stay at home mom to two beautiful girls: Christian Grace (2) and Heidi Blake (8 months). Her and her husband are raising their daughters in the Texas Hill Country. Aubrey initially began her blog, Raising His Wildflowers, to help other cleft families find peace in the cleft diagnosis and to advocate for children born with craniofacial differences. Along with cleft-related content, Aubrey also shares day-to-day life as a stay at home mom in order to bring transparency to the struggles and joys of being a mom. Along with www.raisinghiswildflowers.com, you can also find Aubrey on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube @raisinghiswildflowers

Birth Photographer @mamarazziphotographytx

Resources

Maternal Outcomes in Birth Centers: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Cleft Resources 

https://www.cleftproud.com

https://www.cuddlesforclefts.com

Preparing for birth: a birth binder with everything you need

Expectful

This episode is sponsored by Expectful – the #1 guided meditation & sleep app for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey. Just like you probably take a prenatal vitamin for your body, Expectful’s meditations are like a prenatal vitamin for your mind and can help you have a happier, healthier journey to parenthood. Whether you are TTC, pregnant, or postpartum, everything in the Expectful app was made just for this special moment in your life and created based on interviews with hopeful, expecting, and new parents just like you. Ready to reduce stress, improve sleep, and connect with your little one? Go to expectful.com/birthhour or download Expectful in the App Store to get started with a free trial today. 





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