#131 - Rachel and Jessica's Birth Stories & the Connection Between Birth + Child Development

by Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L December 09, 2020 1 Comment

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Rachel and Jessica's Birth Stories & the Connection Between Birth + Child Development

This episode is all about birth stories - Rachel and Jessica talk about their sons and how different their experiences were. No judgement, no criticism. Just stories. Can you relate?!


Rachel And Jessica’s Birth Stories & The Connection Between Birth And Child Development

Rachel and Jessica are eager to discuss their childbirth experiences, including the challenges they faced and valuable lessons learned. By sharing their stories, they hope to enhance your future birthing experience and encourage women to prioritize self-advocacy during pregnancy and delivery.

Jessica's Birth Story

Jessica opted for a birth that aligned with modern guidelines and was considered traditional. Even though it has been seven years since her son’s birth, she vividly remembers many details, while some may be a little hazy.

Understanding Pregnancy and the Childbirth Process

Right from the beginning, Jessica knew she preferred an epidural and was not keen on enduring labor pain; nevertheless, she also wanted to avoid a C-section. Back then, she had limited knowledge about childbirth procedures and options compared to what she knows now.

Jessica’s excitement to progress intensified as she approached the 40-week milestone. Despite the absence of any signs of labor, such as contractions or ruptured membranes, Jessica’s doctor advised delivery as she neared 41 weeks. Though hesitant, Jessica heeded the doctor’s counsel and proceeded with the scheduled delivery.

Labor And Delivery

Upon her arrival at the hospital, the medical team proceeded to induce labor and rupture her membranes. The administration of epidural and other medications resulted in a numbing effect, causing her to experience minimal sensation and feelings of disorientation.

Despite the lengthy 16-hour labor, Jessica triumphantly welcomed a healthy baby boy the following day. However, she noticed a slight indentation on her newborn’s head after delivery.

Jessica’s doctor dismissed her concerns, attributing them to the typical consequences of the water-breaking process, where they got too close to the baby’s head. Upon reflection, Jessica believed that such an incident should not have occurred.

Transition Into The Fourth Trimester

Throughout her three-month maternity leave, she devoted every evening to cradling her peacefully sleeping baby on her chest, fostering ample tummy time and strengthening their bond. Only when the third month drew to a close did she gently transition him to his crib.

Regarding the postpartum period, Jessica’s memories of her experience are somewhat blurry. The need to quickly return to school didn’t afford her much time to grasp the situation fully; nevertheless, she was fortunate to have received immense support from her loved ones.

If you were to have another child, what changes or adjustments would you make?

While Jessica found the epidural to be a tremendous relief, she would have preferred to wait for her water to break naturally instead of opting for induction by the doctor. She now acknowledges the body’s ability to quickly undergo the birthing process.

Rachel’s Birth Story

Before giving birth, Rachel conducted thorough research on childbirth. She conscientiously adhered to the advice outlined in the Mama Natural book and courses, intending to achieve a vaginal delivery without medication.

Preparing For Birth

Rachel began drinking red raspberry leaf tea from 35 weeks onwards to prepare for childbirth. She also included dates in her diet, albeit in a reduced quantity of three per day instead of the recommended six, as she found their texture unappealing.

Rachel was deeply curious about her baby’s positioning, recognizing its significant impact on the birthing experience. Even though her baby had been in a head-down position for some time, Rachel yearned to determine his direction, allowing her to make necessary adjustments for a more seamless delivery.

Choosing A Midwife

From the very beginning, Rachel’s midwife had a complete understanding of her priorities and concerns. During her 37-week check-up, Rachel emphasized the importance of evaluating her baby’s position.

The ultrasound revealed that her baby was positioned as right occiput anterior (ROA), whereas the desired position is right occiput posterior (ROP). The midwives kindly equipped Rachel with specific exercises to encourage her baby to rotate and align himself for a smoother delivery.

Rachel walked diligently every night, leaning against counters and sitting on a therapy ball instead of reclining. After a week of faithfully maintaining this routine, she returned for her next ultrasound appointment, only to discover that her baby had assumed the correct position.

Finishing these preparations filled her with a deep sense of confidence, empowering her with the belief that she could overcome any obstacle. This mindset became an incredible wellspring of motivation as she eagerly embraced the approaching birthing process.

The Onset Of Labor

At 39 weeks, Rachel started feeling peculiar sensations - cramps and intense Braxton Hicks contractions - coupled with a feeling of queasiness. As the night progressed, her amniotic sac unexpectedly ruptured.

The events unfolded with unexpected speed despite Rachel’s intention to labor at home and visit her midwife in the morning. Upon arrival, the midwife conducted a cervical examination and discovered that Rachel was already four to five centimeters dilated.

Rachel was quickly placed on a monitor for 30 minutes to ensure her well-being. The medical professionals also asked if she wanted to have her blood drawn as a precaution against potential hemorrhages, but Rachel politely declined.

Prepared For Delivery

As Rachel labored in the bathtub, an undeniable urge to push overcame her. With that, she gracefully transitioned to the bed, ready for the final stages of labor.

Rachel decided to forgo an epidural, unearthing a profound connection with her body’s innate instincts. This newfound bond bestowed upon her the liberating freedom to experiment with different positions, ultimately facilitating a gentle descent for her precious baby.

As Rachel reached the final stage of labor, known as the “ring of fire,” she encountered a significant hurdle. The midwife recommended a push-and-pause technique, repeating this pattern to reduce the chances of tearing and ensure a smoother delivery.

As Rachel’s eyes met the baby, a rush of joy filled the room, echoed by exclamations of delight. With gentle care, Rachel cradled the newborn’s head and tenderly placed him on her chest, where his first cries of life resounded.

Would You Make Any Future Changes?

Rachel recognizes how fortunate she was to avoid complications that could have significantly impacted her birth plan.

How The Birthing Process Affects Your Child’s Sensory System

Research indicates that C-sections might impact the persistence of reflexes, as these reflexes play a role in facilitating the baby’s exit from the birth canal and positioning them correctly. Furthermore, traversing the birth canal exposes infants to their mother’s microbiomes, potentially bolstering their immune systems.

In contrast, babies delivered through C-sections miss the chance to be exposed to these beneficial bacteria. Consequently, it is crucial for mothers who choose a C-section to explore methods of introducing diverse microbiomes into their child’s life, such as consuming foods rich in probiotics or taking appropriate supplements.

The process of childbirth can lead to increased cortisol levels in newborns, potentially affecting their temperament and behavior. For example, babies delivered via C-section may display a higher level of fussiness compared to those born vaginally.

Moreover, it is essential to acknowledge that the birthing process alone does not solely impact a baby’s sensory system. The delivery room’s environment and the mother’s hormonal influences also play a role in this equation.

Parents must understand the potential effects of different birthing methods on their child’s development and sensory system. This awareness allows them to make the best decisions for their families and be more informed about their options.

Be Your Own Advocate

The human body possesses incredible capabilities; however, what could have been a beautiful and straightforward birthing experience can swiftly become a traumatic ordeal due to unnecessary interventions. It is of utmost importance to conduct thorough research, seek guidance from others, and assertively advocate for your needs when dealing with a doctor who may not be receptive to them.

Recognizing the worth of embracing distinctive perspectives and approaches is acceptable and immensely valuable. We acknowledge that this subject may ignite debates, yet we firmly believe in the significance of sharing our positive encounters, even when they diverge from the conventional.

At our core, we are dedicated to nurturing children's and mothers' well-being, irrespective of their chosen birthing method. If apprehensions about pain are dissuading you from contemplating an unmedicated birth, keep in mind that with adequate preparation of your body, mind, and baby, it may not be as intimidating as you anticipate.





While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L
Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L

1 Response

Angie Yetzke
Angie Yetzke

January 30, 2023

Thank you for this beautiful podcast. As a somatic movement therapist specializing in birth trauma and infant developmental movement patterns, this is spot-on. (As a mom who wishes she knew all of these things 21 years ago, also spot-on.) Thank you for sharing this information so effectively.

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