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On today’s podcast, we talk with Jencie Richtman, an Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class graduate, about her experience taking the EBB Childbirth Class to help navigate her VBAC.

Jencie and her husband are graduates of the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class with EBB instructor Julie Fors. Jencie is a mother of two living in the north suburbs of Chicago with her husband. Jencie used the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class as a tool to help her with her VBAC with her second child.

In this episode, we hear both of Jencie’s birth stories. Her first birth was an induction that resulted in a Cesarean, and the second, was the VBAC experience she was hoping for. Jencie explains how the EBB childbirth class helped her and her support team to plan for the birth she desired. She shareshow important it was finding a provider and a hospital that supported her choices, which helped her to process and heal from the trauma she experienced with her first labor and delivery.

Content Warnings:  induction, failed induction, BMI, Cesarean, vaginal birth after cesarean, birth trauma, informed consent, birth guilt, use of coercive language, obstetric violence, high intervention birth, delayed bonding, gendered language, difficulty breastfeeding, COVID-19

Resources and References

Read EBB’s Signature Article on Skin-to-Skin Care after a Cesarean here
 
Evidence Based Birth®️ Podcast Episodes regarding VBACs: 

 
Find out more about Julie For’s EBB Childbirth Class and other services on her website, Journey Forward here and follow Instagram here.

Transcript

Rebecca Dekker:

Hi everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Jencie Richtman, Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class graduate, about her experiences using the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class to navigate her VBAC experience.

Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See EBBirth.com/disclaimer for more details.

Hi, everyone. Welcome to today’s episode of the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker, pronouns she/her, and I’ll be your host for today’s episode. Today I’m so excited to welcome a graduate of our Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class.

Before we get started, I want to let you know we will be talking about Cesareans and vaginal birth after Cesarean. If there are any other detailed content or trigger warnings, we’ll post them in the description or show notes that go along with this episode.

And now I’d like to introduce our honored guest, Jencie Richtman. Jencie and her husband are graduates of the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class with EBB instructor Julie Force. Jencie is a mother of two living in the north suburbs of Chicago with her husband. After feeling overwhelmed in the healthcare system with her first labor and delivery, Jencie used the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class as a tool to help her with her VBAC with her second child. Jencie, welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast.

Jencie Richtman:

Thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here.

Rebecca Dekker:

You mentioned it’s a little surreal before we start recording, are you a listener of the EBB podcast?

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah, so I haven’t listened, to be honest, in a while because my daughter’s almost two now. But I was listening like crazy when I was warming up, when I was pregnant, when I was getting ready for labor with her.

Rebecca Dekker:

Awesome. Okay. So how did you find out about Evidence Based Birth® to begin with?

Jencie Richtman:

My doula recommended.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Jencie Richtman:

And so I started listening to the podcast a lot and then that’s when we registered for the class.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. And that was with your second pregnancy?

Jencie Richtman:

Correct.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. So take us back a little bit to your first birth experience. What was that journey like with your first child?

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah, so with my first, I really just went into it, I think, you hear a lot about people’s birth plan goes one way. And then they get into labor and delivery and it goes a whole other way that they didn’t anticipate it going. So in an effort to try to eliminate anxiety, I decided that my birth plan was to go with the flow. And I really kind of ended up setting myself up for disaster, I guess, in that because I really had no birth plan.

So I went into my birth plan with my obstetrician/gynecologist who I’d been with since I started seeing my gynecologist. And what I learned from that experience was that just because someone is a good gynecologist fit for you, doesn’t mean that they’re a good obstetrician fit for you. And I found my doula and she was wonderful and she kind of encouraged me to seek a different provider maybe. But she was very hands off and didn’t push.

So I didn’t take that advice and I just stuck with my same obstetrician. And in the end, I was under-prepared and I didn’t know how to navigate the health system. And every intervention under the sun took place, even though we were very healthy, and had a really healthy pregnancy. And it ended up being a C-section when I don’t think it really needed to be. And I mean, I can elaborate on any more of this, but kind of in a nutshell that’s what happened.

I walked away with a C-section with healthy baby and a healthy me, when I really think that it didn’t need to be. And so it left me kind of emotionally wounded with this experience that I felt like my son was kind of robbed from a birth experience. And I was too, of just us getting to do it our own way, so to speak. We didn’t get that.

And I had to kind of emotionally navigate that postpartum. And it took me a little while. But I got pregnant with my daughter fairly quickly afterwards. And so then I was able to pretty quickly say, “Okay, how do I want to do this different?” And that’s how I came to the EBB class and taking my doulas advice and doing the second pregnancy differently.

Rebecca Dekker:

I have a few questions. So going back to that first Cesarean, what made you think that it wasn’t a medically necessary Cesarean? Or was it preventable? Especially knowing what you know now about birth and applying that to that processing?

Jencie Richtman:

So I could talk about this for hours. So that’s why I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to try to condense it.” So from the beginning it was focused on BMI. “Your BMI is high.” I wasn’t a high risk pregnancy, “But your BMI is high.” And then it was this baby, once I got later on in the pregnancy, “This baby is huge, this baby’s head is huge.” He was due on the 4th of July. “Well, we don’t want you to go into labor on a holiday, we need to schedule this. We want to induce you on the 39th week.”

And in the EBB class, you learn all about just the different ways that different providers might navigate that. There are some providers that believe that the 39th week, that there’s some evidence that shows that the 39th week, placenta is in its prime. I guess that that’s where they were coming from with that. But I really wanted to wait to see when he would come on his own. And they were really-

Rebecca Dekker:

So you started getting the pressure early that you were going to have to be induced?

Jencie Richtman:

Yes. He ended up weighing 7 pounds and 14 ounces. So he was not huge, but they were telling me, “Oh, this baby’s going to be so big.” And everything that we learned in the EBB class about different tactics that they might try to kind of pressure you, I mean it was by the book, everything that they tried kind of in-

Rebecca Dekker:

Threats about the baby’s health and your safety?

Jencie Richtman:

Exactly.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah, exactly. And I tried to kind of push it off, but I wasn’t putting my foot down. I trusted them. So I was like, “Well, what’s the latest that you’ll feel comfortable with me pushing it off?” kind of thing. And she’s like, “Well then it’s a weekend and I really don’t want you to come in on a weekend.” Which if my husband were here, that was the part that he was most horrified about, that the scheduling of it all.

And so at any rate, they agreed to let me come in for an induction three days after my due date. Which statistically for your first and for a boy, really isn’t that much time. But I didn’t know any of that because I didn’t take the class and I didn’t have any knowledge of this the first time around.

So I did respond to the induction and my water broke and everything. But then I would describe being on Pitocin for my body, I just think it wasn’t ready. It was just chaos mode. It was too much, too fast, and I couldn’t get on top of the contractions. And I don’t mean to scare anyone, but it was just for me, I just wasn’t ready for it. My body wasn’t ready for it.

So I wanted medication. And I think then getting epidural and then laying in bed, I wasn’t able to move around. So then they ended up calling it failed induction.

Rebecca Dekker:

And you had a doula with you during that?

Jencie Richtman:

I did. I did. She was wonderful. But she was a very, she’s a supportive type of doula. She wasn’t like an adversarial doula, which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted a hold your hand type of doula, not like a march in there and speak for you. And I think there can be different kinds like that.

But at any rate, then they had kind of turned up my Pitocin without asking me about it. And there was just a lot of that going on. And so then they wanted to do the C-section as a failed induction, is what they were calling it. But again, I didn’t know any of this until later on. A year and a half later, I’m taking the EBB class and we’re all, my husband and I are like, this is all coming back to us. This is crazy.

That I think I had only gotten to four centimeters. So I never was technically in active labor, but they were calling it a failed induction. But at that point, it had been about 24 hours and they weren’t letting me eat. And I was begging for a cracker. Again, if I had known how to navigate the system, I would’ve brought food. I would’ve told them, “No.” I would’ve gone and gotten something or had my husband go and gotten something to eat. But I didn’t know any better. I mean, there’s no other way to put it.

Rebecca Dekker:

And you were just following their instructions?

Jencie Richtman:

I was following their instruction. I was just trusting them. Surgery went really well. I didn’t like it. It was not something I ever want to repeat, but I healed really well from it, and it went smoothly. But the whole experience was just, it just felt completely unnecessary and rushed and pushed. And none of it felt like I was in the driver’s seat.

And I remember I listened to one of these, of a woman who was telling a very similar story to, she had a successful VBAC and her first birthing experience was similar to this. And she just didn’t feel like she was in the driver’s seat. And I think she described it the same way.

And it’s just funny because now that I had this successful VBAC, I feel the same way. That it’s all about the level of control. And I think even if I had a Cesarean the second time, I think I would feel better about it just being able to make the choice, informed consent. And just knowing that I was in the driver’s seat the whole time. Where this first time I just felt like things were just kind of happening to me.

Rebecca Dekker:

You were a passenger, things were happening to you.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

And from what I understand, this is super common in the Chicago area because we have lot of-

Jencie Richtman:

In the hospital that I was at-

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah,

Jencie Richtman:

Very common. Very common.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. So this kind of experience, we hear a lot of people talking about similar experiences of just being told, kind of pressured into an induction, and then not being given enough time. Because 24 hours isn’t really enough to induce a first time birthing person for a lot of people. But was presented as this has failed, this process has failed.

And you were fasting the whole time. It’s very uncomfortable. So there’s a lot that goes into reasons why people are like, “Yeah, just give me the Cesarean because this is miserable.” Right?

Jencie Richtman:

It was.

Rebecca Dekker:

If you’re going to do an induction with your first birth, before your body is ready, you have to be prepared for it to take two to four days and nights. And that’s hard. Not everybody wants to do that or is supported in doing that. Your next pregnancy, did you switch doulas too? Or did you have the same doula?

Jencie Richtman:

No, no. I love her so much. It’s funny, the bond I think you can make with a doula. And at the end of the day, I might just be a job to her. I don’t know. But my husband loved her so much because he could go take a break and go get a coffee.

But the second time around, I mean I’m an attorney, I feel like I don’t need people to speak for me. I just needed her to hold my hand. And my husband is like a deer in headlights. The second time around, I just heeded her advice. And when she would make little comments like, “You should see the midwives out in Evanston, maybe you want to talk to them.” Instead, the second time around I was like, “I’m just going to do what she says.” I’m going to go check it out. And that’s what I did.

And I did call my obstetrician from the first time around when I got pregnant the second time, and I had a phone conference with her and I talked to her about a VBAC. And then I called my doula and I told her about it. And she’s like, she’s so patient. She tells me, “Right, well, but I’m just nervous that she might just be telling you what you might want to hear and then later on she’s going to put you back down the same path.”

And hearing that at the time I was like, “Oh, you’re right.” And now I think about that and I’m like, “Of course.” She was so gentle with me, but hello, of course, she was right. I was putting myself right back in that same place. And I think that, and I heard this in the EBB class too, I think that we want to trust our providers. And we want to trust medical professionals because they’re professional. And me as a professional, I want to trust other professionals.

But sometimes they’re just not a good fit. And it doesn’t mean they’re bad at their job or anything, but they’re just not a good fit. And you have to go find someone that is going to follow your same intention with the plan. And that’s what I did. And it was night and day. And they treated her better, the other hospital, the other providers. They treated me better and they treated my baby better.

I don’t want to say that we were mistreated at the other place, but it was just that everything felt like what I had to say was what mattered. It wasn’t just another baby, another mom, it was my birth plan. I mean they asked me for my birth plan. The other place they looked at me like I was, “What are you talking about?” When I mentioned … They made you do, if it was your first child, it was this little meeting thing with nurses for your first trimester.

And I asked them about having a birth plan and what you do with the birth plan, like where do I take it? Should I take it to the hospital? And they looked at me like I had eight heads when I asked them about that. You know what I mean? Where then I go to, when I’m in labor, and they asked me for it. “Do you have a paper copy of your birth plan?” At this other hospital. And that’s just such a night and day difference.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Jencie Richtman:

So …

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, the whole environment was different. And more supportive of you and your family.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. Night and day.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. And it seems like they were almost preparing you in the first hospital to not be in the driver’s seat.

Jencie Richtman:

Exactly.

Rebecca Dekker:

In the very first trimester telling you, acting like you’re crazy for even bringing up a birth plan.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. And I have a very close friend who delivered, I referred her to that doctor years ago. And she delivered both of her children at that same, with those same providers at that hospital. And I mean she scheduled her second C-section and she was happy to do that. She loved it and that’s great. That worked for her. She was happy with that. She was happy to schedule her second C-section. Wonderful.

And I think that goes to speak that. And that’s what I like about the EBB class and why I’ve told people about it. I think that what works for one person doesn’t have to work for everyone else. And that’s great. But that’s why informed consent I think is such a big deal and why it’s so critical that we know about it.

Because I mean, as I mentioned before, I’m an attorney. I think that I went into it almost arrogant thinking, “Well I know how to speak for myself, I’m fine. I’m not going to fall prey to anyone taking advantage.” And then really I was like, “What’s going on? What’s happening?” The whole time.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Jencie Richtman:

So what fits one person isn’t going to necessarily fit the next.

Rebecca Dekker:

So in the EBB childbirth class, you’ve mentioned some things you’ve learned about, but what was your experience like taking the class with Julie?

Jencie Richtman:

It was great. She was wonderful. I mean, she was really gentle, but really well informed, and I think that’s a great combo. It was interesting because we were in the peak of quarantine, so I think it’s usually in person, or at least kind of a hybrid, but we were completely online. So it would’ve been, I think it was the summer of 2020.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Jencie Richtman:

And yeah, it was great. I think we were the only couple that we were there for our second child, so we had kind of a unique experience. Everyone else did their homework and they were there for their first, so good on them. Hopefully they had a better birth experience with their first child. But yeah, it was really interesting to kind of see with every tidbit that we learned, we had, “Oh my God, that happened to us.” So that was really interesting.

Rebecca Dekker:

Lots of aha moments.

Jencie Richtman:

Yes, a lot.

Rebecca Dekker:

Putting the pieces together.

Jencie Richtman:

Yep.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. So it sounds like you were kind of processing your first birth the whole time you were preparing for the second.

Jencie Richtman:

Definitely. I heard a lot on the podcast and just a lot in different things that I came across in preparing for my daughter’s birth. But that a lot of women that felt like their first birth was traumatic, or difficult to digest, that they felt like their second birth experience was healing for the first. And yeah, I felt like there was a lot of that.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. So take us to the end of your pregnancy. I know you had the same doula that you had a bond with. You were with a midwifery group in a different hospital. What else were you planning for your VBAC? And what was your mindset like?

Jencie Richtman:

My mindset was that I definitely had a birth plan. It wasn’t far off from what happened with my son, to be fair. I didn’t want any unnecessary intervention if I could avoid it. But I wasn’t upset necessarily with what, I’m not against intervention. I’m not against hospital births. I’m not against any kind of medication use. But I just want to be able to let my body and her body do what they need to do to get to the end result the safest way, and with minimal intervention if possible.

So I think that the big difference was just coming up with plans A, B, and C, which I think the class helped prepare us for. So having an epidural was still on the plan. I was nervous about it. I wanted to wait and hold off because I was scared that I was going to get stuck to the bed again, and that I wouldn’t be able to move around. But I wasn’t totally against it.

Yeah, I think the big things were just making sure that I knew what I wanted to happen in every situation and have a plan A, B, and C, anything that might come up. And then having snacks, having comfy clothes, not feeling like I had to wear hospital clothes. Just different comfort tools that we learned about. I still use those flameless candles for baths.

I thought water was going to be my saving source. And I had really bad back labor with her. I mean, it was really my first experience at true labor. So I thought I was going to kind of know, but it was a whole new ball game. And the midwife wanted me to get in the shower at one point and I was like, “If I’m in here for another second, I’m going to die. It’s awful in here.” So I really wanted, there was one room with a bathtub at Evanston Hospital. And it’s just first come, first serve, and I really wanted to get it, but we did not get it. And I don’t think I would’ve even used that bathtub.

But yeah, just being prepared for all of those little things and having time on our side. And the midwives were so supportive of that. I had prodromal labor, so it was stop and go for 10 days, and we just dealt with it. It was a little wacky to deal with in quarantine or in COVID. I don’t even remember at what phase that was in entirely. But it wasn’t all hands on deck with the toddler at home. But I do know that my mom was able to come and take him, thank God. And I just was able to labor at home for a while. And then-

Rebecca Dekker:

So how did you know, you mentioned prodromal labor, how did you know that? I don’t want to say the real birthing time, but you know what I mean, that the baby was actually going to be coming soon? And not-

Jencie Richtman:

Because my waters broke.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Jencie Richtman:

So I was like, “I’m pretty sure I’m leaking.” And then I was like, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that that’s waters and that’s not anything else.” And then I called the midwife and they were just so easy going about it. And they were like, “Well, you got to come in if it’s been 24 hours, but I bet you’re going to go in full on labor tonight.”

And my contractions were coming every five to six minutes or so, but they weren’t really picking up. And then they would kind of stall and then they’d come back. And then finally the next morning I went in to get checked and sure enough it was my water. So they were like, “You need to go to the hospital.” And then they put me on Pitocin. But I was real scared. I was real nervous about the Pitocin because I had such a bad experience.

But they were just so kind to me about it. And they were like, “I promise this is not going to be your first experience. It’s a very low dose. We’re not going to … It’s different when we’re augmenting. It’s very different.” I felt like my first experience, they were different hospital, different nurses. But they were kind of like, “You’re fine honey, just sit down.”

This experience they were like, “It’s okay, everything’s going to be okay.” They were very soothing. And sure enough it was fine. I did do, what’s the name of it? I did do a narcotic when I got in because at that point-

Rebecca Dekker:

An opioid injection.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. I did that because it had been 30 some hours at that point, so that I could sleep for a few hours. And then it was full labor when I woke up. And then I labored for a while. And then at about 9:00 PM they finally checked me and I was at nine centimeters.

And then it was about that time. And then I was like, okay, “I want the epidural.” And my midwife was trying to stall me out. She was like, “Just let’s try to get in the shower. You’re almost there.” And I was like, “No, I want it.” The reason I wanted to avoid it is because I was scared that I was going to stall out, but I’m nearly there.

Rebecca Dekker:

That you wouldn’t dilate, yeah.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. And it’s been like 48 hours, I need to rest, I’m ready. So we ended up doing the epidural and then I slept. We all rested while she just worked her way down the birth canal. And then once I felt pressure, woke up, and started pushing. And it actually wore off. So I felt her come out, felt all of it, pushed her out.

Which was amazing because then I mean 15 minutes later I got up and walked to the bathroom by myself. And what a difference that was from a C-section where, I mean you’re bedridden. I had my son at 8:00 PM and I wasn’t able to get up with a nurse’s help until 7:00 AM. Where with my daughter, I’m hopping up 15 minutes later after child. That was amazing. That was incredible.

Rebecca Dekker:

You just felt more like yourself after the birth.

Jencie Richtman:

Oh my God, amazing. And the pictures, I’m all bloated and huge from my son. And my daughter. I’m just like, oh amazing. Night and day.

Rebecca Dekker:

Wow. So you could feel a difference in the recovery with your daughter?

Jencie Richtman:

Oh yeah, 100%

Rebecca Dekker:

What was it like when your second baby, you were holding them after doing all that?

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah, that was the best part. So part of my birth plan was, this is going to sound really lame, but Courtney Kardashian, how she delivered her baby, she pulled her baby out.

Rebecca Dekker:

Caught her baby herself.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. And I’m sure other, I mean, for millions of years, I’m sure many women have, birthing people have done that. But I thought that would be really cool if I could do that. And so the nurses told me when they looked at my birth plan, they were like, “Make sure you remind your doula because we’re going to be in the heat of the moment. So have your doula remind us, remind you.”

So my doula was like, “Okay, Jencie, this is it. This is the moment. She’s right here. Do you want to grab her?” And I was like, “No, just get her out.” So I didn’t do that, but they grabbed her, and they put her on me. And I was just, I just couldn’t believe. The feeling was just so wild that she was on me and that I was holding her.

And what a different feeling of with the Cesarean, it was just like, I just couldn’t believe, laying there. And it’s just such an out of body experience with my first, and your baby’s so far away. And the doctors were like, “Just look at your baby, look at your baby.” Trying to distract you, I think. And I was like, “I don’t want to.” I just didn’t want my first memories to be that moment. That wasn’t a great moment, to be frank.

And then fast forward to holding my daughter. And you don’t have your mama bear instincts quite yet. I didn’t. But then fast forward to holding your daughter and it’s like your mama bear instincts are fully intact when it’s your second. And so you’re just like, that’s exactly primal what I want to be doing. It gets me choked up. But that’s 100% instinctually what I want to be doing. I don’t even want to be looking at her. I want to be holding her. I don’t want anyone else to touch her. I want her on me.

I don’t even need my husband near me necessarily. I just need her on me. And so it was like the craziest feeling. And then finally, the midwife kept calling her, and we did know her sex before she was born. She kept calling her him. And so then finally a few minutes had passed and I was like, “Yeah, do we even know? Is she a girl?”

And then she was like, “Oh sorry. Yeah, she is a girl. She is a girl.” And so then finally, okay, her sex is confirmed, let me look at her face. And I looked at her and then she’s crying and she’s healthy and she’s pink. But it was just such a wild feeling, actually have her on my chest. And it was just the coolest thing. And I’ll never get that with my son, and I wish that I had, but I’m just happy that I got to do that with her.

And I’m just happy that his birth experience taught me to be able to do that for her. My doula told me, when I was postpartum with him and I was dealing with some kind of just guilt and trauma from his birth experience with that. She just said like, “Hey, your mama bear instincts don’t kick in right away. It takes a little while.” And so to be able to do that with her was just, it kind of made up for that with him in a way.

So they were so wonderful. They let me do the whole golden hour with her. They did all of her tests on me and she latched right away. And I could never get him to really latch. With his breastfeeding experience, they wanted me to…they were like, “Oh you have flat nipples. You have this, you have that. You need to put all these things on your nipples. And you need to do all this.”

And again, the whole thing was just so artificial and invasive, and people were grabbing at my breasts. And with her it was just so organic. And I just put her on me and she latched right away and she breastfed right away again. And I think that that whole chest experience and her coming right on me, she was so calm, and all of that was just so smooth. And I think that because her transition was just from uterus to chest to me was just so smooth. That whole experience was just wonderful.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, it makes me think about a couple things. One, it sounds like you had the golden ticket, that second time, that we talk about in the class. The right fit with your providers and your birth setting. Where you didn’t really have to worry or fight. It was like everything you wanted was done the way you wanted.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

Even with needing interventions, but you got the ones that you needed and wanted in an appropriate way. And then the whole thought of, I’ve talked with several people who even recently still are not getting the family friendly, or family centered Cesareans. Where they’re still making excuses to take the baby away and not do skin-to-skin in the operating room.

And how that’s something that we really need to be calling out hospitals. There’s no reason to not. That people having Cesareans can’t have that experience of having their baby on their chest. Unless there’s some medical emergency or the person is incapacitated and can’t do it. And yeah, it seems like I’m glad that you were able to have that second healing experience.

Jencie Richtman:

I agree. I asked them if they did that for Cesareans and they were kind of cagey about it. So maybe they’re not at that point.

Rebecca Dekker:

At the first hospital? Or the second hospital?

Jencie Richtman:

No, the second one. So maybe if I would’ve had it. Because I was nervous, if I did need a Cesarean, would I get skin-to-skin with Cesarean? And I didn’t really get a good answer. So I don’t know, because that doesn’t make sense to me either. Why is the baby on just this table way over there? I don’t know. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Rebecca Dekker:

And it’s definitely, I mean for 10 years now, people have been showing that it can be done. You can do skin-to-skin in the operating room. So there’s really no excuse anymore. I think there’s just hospitals need to start doing it. And we need to start saying, “Hey, this needs to be an option.” Because it shouldn’t be limited just to people who are able to get that VBAC that they wanted, or who have a vaginal birth with their baby.

Jencie Richtman:

They did take her out of the room for the hearing test and I really fought them on that. I did not. I don’t like that. So with my son at the first hospital, that hospital is brand new. So the hearing test and everything is done in the room. So that’s the one nice thing about that hospital. They never took the baby out of the room.

Rebecca Dekker:

After you were recovered from the C-section?

Jencie Richtman:

Right. With my daughter, the hospital is not as new, so the hearing test was in the nursery or something. But again, I had honed in better on my mama bear skills, I’m just going to keep calling them. And no, there’s no reason for you to ever take my child outside of my sight when they’re that little. I don’t want to do that. I’m not comfortable with it. So I feel like I should be able to say no to that.

So I wasn’t comfortable with it and I said no. And I was like, “Well, I’m going to wait for the pediatrician to get here.” Pediatrician’s like, “Well, we don’t have it at our office.” I’m like, “Really?” She’s like, “You have to go downtown to Lurie Children’s Hospital downtown if you want to do that.” I’m like, “Well I don’t want to do that.”

She’s like, “Just let them take the baby.” And I’m like, “Well can I go with?” And then they’re like, “Well no because of COVID protocol, you can’t come with.” I’m like, “Oh man.” So it’s like, I don’t know, there’s always something I think at hospitals and that’s why people opt for-

Rebecca Dekker:

Home birth or birth center, so they don’t want to deal with the red tape. Yeah.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. There’s always red tape somewhere. So yeah, I don’t know.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, that is a hard one. But I mean the fact that you were able to keep your babies with you other than that is really amazing.

Jencie Richtman:

I agree.

Rebecca Dekker:

Especially when you think about how 10 or 15 years ago, that was not the norm at all. So aside from your immediate postpartum experience, what about the next couple of months at home, as you were recovering from your VBAC, what was your postpartum like?

Jencie Richtman:

It was amazing. I mean, I feel like I have nothing to report. It was-

Rebecca Dekker:

It went smoothly?

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. I had less bleeding, went very smoothly. I would definitely opt for vaginal birth over Cesarean again. So I mean we hope to have a third probably. My guess is we probably will try to have a third, and I would absolutely try to go for another VBAC. Yeah, definitely.

Rebecca Dekker:

What about recovering postpartum during COVID? This is still kind of before vaccines. People are still really afraid to let people in their homes or whatever.

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

So did you have enough support during COVID with postpartum?

Jencie Richtman:

Yeah. You know what’s funny about that, on her birthday in the hospital, they were announcing, “The COVID vaccine is now available.” On her birthday. So I mean not hugely, that was definitely … So she was born December 2020. So I called the pediatrician to say, “Hey, what do you think we should do about visitors?” So they just kind of gave us what they were recommending per the CDC.

So we just had two people in at a time, basically just grandparents and aunties and uncles. You have to wear masks and you have to quarantine for a week beforehand. Obviously you have to go to the grocery store and go to work, but please no social events. And we just left it at that. Limit to two people at a time and it was just like per day. And that’s all we did.

So it was not like we were having people come in and cook us food, or play with the toddler, or take the toddler out to an event. There was none of that. And I think when you have your second, you’re kind of hoping like, “Oh yay, someone’s going to come and entertain my toddler.”

Rebecca Dekker:

Take the toddler out for the afternoon. Yeah.

Jencie Richtman:

And show him a happy time. And there was none of that. So I think that was a little hard to deal with, but at the same time, it’s all that we know, so you just deal with it.

Rebecca Dekker:

Right. So, Jencie, do you have any advice for our listeners who are planning on entering birth or parenthood soon? Any words of wisdom from your two experiences?

Jencie Richtman:

Honestly, I have had a couple friends, and I truly just tell them to take the EBB class. I really do. I think birth stories are always great too. Sometimes they can scare you too though. But I think that the class is great because I really think that informed consent is just a term I hadn’t heard. I didn’t know enough about it.

I had never been in the hospital for anything before I had my son. So I just had no idea how to navigate the healthcare system. So I think just knowing what to expect. With my first, I took the hospital’s birth class and that’s really just kind of in one way or another, some kind of propaganda. It’s specific to that hospital and it’s not really very educational. So I think just making yourself aware of what the evidence is out there. And it’s already been put in a neat package for you in this class. So I mean, to me that’s kind of a no-brainer.

I also think getting a doula, and my husband will attest to that. Find a doula because doulas are so amazing. They are there for support for the birthing person and to hold your hand. I mean she just held my hand most of the time, but the emotional support that she offered me was priceless.

But my husband loved her almost more because like I said, he felt like he could leave the room and take a break. He could go get a coffee, whatever he needed to do. He felt like he wasn’t abandoning me. So yeah, get a doula too, I think is just one of the best things you can do. And they also just are there to offer guidance, answer questions. I wouldn’t have found this class if it hadn’t been for her.

Rebecca Dekker:

And it made me think, listen to doulas too.

Jencie Richtman:

Right.

Rebecca Dekker:

Because some doulas are going to be a little bit more outspoken about what they’ve seen. And some are going to be, like you said, more gentle. And kind of like, “Well maybe you should consider.” But my guess is your doula had already had or heard of bad experiences with that first obstetrician that you had. And it’s like their knowledge is really important.

They hold a lot of community knowledge about who are the best providers and who you can trust with your care. And so if they suggest looking into switching, that’s a really strong, you should definitely take that seriously and consider it.

I also love how you’ve been talking about informed consent. Because I would think as an attorney when you work with clients, that whole concept of making sure that your client is educated about all their options and that they choose the path that they want to take. There’s some similarities in there. And then with healthcare and just helping people navigate their decisions with knowledge and power.

So, Jencie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today and sharing your two birth stories with us. And we appreciate that you’re telling your friends about EBB as well.

Jencie Richtman:

Thanks for having me.

Rebecca Dekker:

This podcast episode was brought to you by the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class. This is Rebecca speaking. When I walked into the hospital to have my first baby, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Since then, I’ve met countless parents who felt that they too were unprepared for the birth process and navigating the healthcare system. The next time I had a baby, I learned that in order to have the most empowering birth possible, I needed to learn the evidence on childbirth practices.

We are now offering the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class totally online. In your class, you will work with an instructor who will skillfully mentor you and your partner in evidence based care, comfort measures, and advocacy. So that you can both embrace your birth and parenting experiences with courage and confidence. Get empowered with an interactive online childbirth class you and your partner will love. Visit evidencebasebirt.com/childbirthclass to find your class now.

 

Listening to this podcast is an Australian College of Midwives CPD Recognised Activity.

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