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In this episode, I’m joined by Liesel Teen, a seasoned L&D nurse and childbirth educator and the creator of Mommy Labor Nurse, where she reveals the common myths surrounding pregnancy and birth.

Learn about the shocking misconceptions, such as babies running out of room, the impact of baby size on vaginal delivery, the importance of partner education, and the need for postpartum care. She also delves into the unexpected, and rare, scenario of giving birth in the car, and shares essential tips for partners and mothers on how to keep the baby safe and warm during this intense moment. Liesel’s valuable insights will empower expectant parents to approach their childbirth journey with knowledge and confidence. Discover the truth behind these myths and how to prepare for a positive birth experience.

Content Warning: emergency car births, risk of stillbirth, and gendered language

Transcript

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:00:00:

Hi everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Liesel Teen from Mommy Labor Nurse about how to prepare for birth in a way that lowers anxiety and reduces the unknowns, hopefully leading to a more positive and empowering 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, my name is Rebecca Dekker, pronouns she/her, and I will be your host for today’s episode. I’m going to let you know that in this episode, we will be talking about emergency births in the car and gendered language may be used. And now I’d like to introduce our honored guest. Liesel Teen, pronouns she/her, the creator of Mommy Labor Nurse, is a practicing labor and delivery nurse, a birth educator, and a podcaster. As a labor and delivery nurse and mom of two, Liesel has long believed that knowledge is the key to empowering us to give birth without fear and with total confidence. Since starting Mommy Labor Nurse in 2017, Liesel has been able to offer education to so many more families than she ever could in her role as a bedside labor and delivery nurse alone, but she’s still a practicing nurse at the bedside. More than anything, Liesel wants folks to know that birth education is for everyone. And Liesel’s own positive birth experiences in a hospital setting inspired her to want to support as many hospital preferred families and moms as possible, leveraging the reach of online platforms. So through Mommy Labor Nurse, Liesel is out there increasing transparency and normalizing positive and empowered birth. We’re so excited that Liesel is here today. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast.

Liesel Teen – 00:02:00:

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for having me. I’m so excited to be here. I know we’ve chatted before on my podcast, but I’m excited to come on to yours. So thank you for having me.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:02:09:

Yeah, thank you for being here. I’m so excited to talk with you and let our listeners hear your passion for birth education. And you have some really fun topics we’re going to be talking about in a little bit. But I was wondering if you could start off by telling us how, as a nurse, we’re both nurses, you’ve shifted more towards the childbirth education side and prenatal education. Can you talk a little bit about what made those connections? What led you to shift from mainly working as a labor and delivery nurse to starting the Mommy Labor Nurse platform and educating families?

Liesel Teen – 00:02:44:

Yeah, I’d love to. So, goes back to where I started Mommy Labor Nurse, but I’ve always been very attracted to teaching. I think if I didn’t go to nursing school, I would have gone and been a teacher because I really just get a lot of fulfillment from seeing that light bulb come on for other people when I’m explaining something. So as a nurse, I really enjoy that part of my job. I’ve always enjoyed bedside teaching and I loved precepting before I started Mommy Labor Nurse. So I’m a big fan of teaching and I knew that eventually I would probably do something a little bit more teaching-based, still within the nursing career, but kind of thought I would go back to school and become a nursing educator, something like that. But, basically I had my son back in 2017, he’s six and a half, almost seven now, took a three month maternity leave with him, came back about three quarter time, not totally full time, but I love my job as an L&D nurse, but I was longing to be home with my baby as much as I could. So I just started Googling and seeing how can I make a little bit of extra income on the side? And maybe cut a couple of hospital shifts so I can stay home with my baby. And so blogging came up and I was like, oh “wait, this is really cool. I can start a blog and you know, there’s mom blogs and stuff out there, but there’s not a whole lot of L&D mom blogs out there”. So I’m like, “this is great”. Like this can really be something that I can use to hopefully reach like so many other people than I can just at the bedside and I can do it at home. So obviously it’s grown a lot since then and I’ve done a lot of different things, but really that’s how I got started into the teaching education space. And yeah, I mean, I actually am working at the hospital today in a couple hours. I have to go in and do a shift, but I don’t like ever see myself, at least at this point, leaving bedside totally because it’s something that I still truly love is just being able to work with a patient and being present in births and just having that one-on-one time with patients, but gosh, education, especially when you do it online can reach so many more people and it can be so beneficial in such a different way. So yeah, it’s really been a journey for sure.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:05:17:

I know some people get into birth education and birth work from their own experience, whether they were negative or positive. I know you mentioned that you had several positive birth experiences. Can you share a little bit about how those experiences went and how they inspired you to do what you do?

Liesel Teen – 00:05:34:

Yeah, sure. So my first birth for sure, I had a super empowering unmedicated birth with him. You know, had been a labor and delivery nurse, I guess, for about two and a half-ish years at that point and was always very interested in unmedicated birth, especially because working in a hospital, at least the hospital that I work at, it’s not 90% of moms that get epidurals, but there’s not a whole lot of unmedicated birth just at our hospital. Like just a lot of people get epidurals. So I’ve always just been intrigued by unmedicated birth. So I started to get really interested in it when I was pregnant with Walter, my son. And yeah, I ended up having him and I feel like it really changed my practice as a bedside labor and delivery nurse at that point because it’s like you can help somebody through the pain. But once you feel it yourself and you’ve and you experienced that experience, you’re just able to be a lot more empathetic. Not that I wasn’t empathetic before, but you’re like, “okay, I get it. I get it. I get how hard this is. I get how incredible it feels after you’re done”. And I also get how much I prepped for my own birth and how many people I talked to and how many birth stories I listened to and how excited I was going into my own birth and how that really did impact my birth experience coming out of it. So that’s definitely the first one how that one went. That very much sparked, I’d say, the birth of Mommy Labor Nurse. My second one still went unmedicated. It wasn’t as empowering as the first one, I would say. It was a little bit, I think my expectations were a little higher than they should have been going into that one. But I learned a lot from that birth too, because I went in and I thought, “oh, I’ve had a baby before. I’m going to come and labor for a couple hours and then have a baby. It’s going to be a lot easier than it was the first time”. I had a lot of back labor with my first one and it just, I didn’t push forever, but it just, it was a hard labor. But my second one had still had a lot of back labor. It wasn’t as long as the first one, but at the end, his heart rate was dropping. So I was a little bit fearful at the end. And so I felt very shell-shocked after he was born. Long story short, that one taught me a lot too, but it wasn’t as empowering as the first one for sure.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:08:03:

So did you feel like with the second one, your expectations were I’ve done this before, so it’ll be easier this time instead of this is going to be hard, I need to prepare for it just as much as the first one?

Liesel Teen – 00:08:14:

I think I bet on myself too much. Yeah. I think, I had Mommy Labor Nurse at this point already and I had put out my birth classes and I was telling myself all the same things that I tell my patients but I think maybe I thought I knew it too well in my head. And I’m like, “I did this before, I can do it again, I don’t have to”, but it’s like, “no, I probably should have done a little bit more prep even though I have my own darn birth classes, like you still got to really get into it”. Exactly, practice what you preach.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:08:47:

Yeah, I think it’s true, especially for unmedicated births, a lot of strategies that you’re using are positioning, but also mental, 100% and the being able to physically relax your body through an intense process. And if you’re not actively working on it, it can definitely hit you a lot harder when you get into labor.

Liesel Teen – 00:09:13:

Oh yeah. And it’s funny cause I tell my patients this and I tell all of my people this, like it’s so mental. You got to relax your body. That’s so important. All of this stuff. And then when I go into my own birth, it’s like, “Oh, wait a second. Oh yeah, you’re right. I do have to do this. And this would make it a lot easier”. I did, I would say one thing I did was my husband, I prepped a lot better this second time. And his experience was a lot more positive than the first go around because he was, I thought I’ll prep myself and I’ll be good cause I’m the one giving birth. Right? Okay. My husband, whatever, the nurses will take care of him. He’s fine. But he was very, very just like, “oh my gosh, it’s really hard to watch somebody that I care so much about in an extreme amount of pain and I don’t know what to do to help you and this is horrible”. And so the second time around, I did a lot better job of just educating him. So his experience was definitely way more positive, I would say, because of that. 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:10:12:

Yeah. That’s awesome.

Liesel Teen – 00:10:14:

Yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:10:15:

And tell us a little bit before we get into like what you’re going to teach us about, tell us a little bit about Mommy Labor Nurse. What’s the name of your podcast? What’s your audience like? What are you educating people on?

Liesel Teen – 00:10:26:

Yeah, so I am over at the Mommy Labor Nurse podcast. Very easy to remember. But the Mommy Labor Nurse podcast, that’s where I am on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, all of the social medias and stuff. But yeah, we’re really based in patient education. There are a lot of L&D based accounts who they go towards birth workers or they go towards patients. And I think we attract a lot of birth workers, but we’re definitely more patient based. So we’re very much into empowering moms, getting them prepared for their birth, but also getting them excited for their birth. That’s a big one that I think I really focus on in particularly is taking people from that, “oh I’m really anxious about this event, to “I can do this.” This is going to be great. I’ve prepared. I feel ready and I feel excited going into this. Of course, there’s going to be some nerves like anything else, but we really strive to make that shift of anxious to excitement.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:11:29:

Yeah. And one of the things I love about the work you do is you take the things that would be scary or the big unknowns of birth and you break them down and basically teach people how they can cope with that if that happens. So one of the big ones I wanted you to talk with our listeners about is car births, AKA having a baby in the car on the way to the hospital. And I know that is a fear of a lot of families, particularly partners, they’re worried about, “well, I have to deliver the baby”. If you’re trying to like face that fear head on and be like, all right, this is what I would do if this happened. What are some of the most important things you want families to know about car births?

Liesel Teen – 00:12:08:

Yeah, car birth. Yeah, I just did a reel about this a couple of months back with it was me and my sister in the car and we were laughing as we were recording it because she’s not pregnant. No, but it’s just as goofy. 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker -00:12:20:

So you were like acting out a car birth? 

Liesel Teen – 00:12:22:

Oh yeah, oh yeah, we were acting it out. Yeah, it was great. But yeah, it’s definitely, most people aren’t laughing if it actually happens to them. It can be quite scary and quite nerve wracking. So going into it, yeah, I would say that’s a big one is if you’ve had, and most of the time, these are moms who they’ve had births before and they went quicker than they anticipated. And so maybe they live a little bit further from the hospital and they’re like, “oh my God, I don’t even know what I would do if I give birth in the car”. Like “walk me through this”. I would say most first time moms don’t give birth in the car, but hey, this is for first time moms too because you never know it can happen, right? Birth is very unpredictable, but we’ll go over the reel to like, basically what I said in the reel, broke it down very, very like short and quick and to the point, but basically partner, okay, focus on driving, okay? But if your wife, partner, whoever is starting to push a baby out, pull over, stop driving. Don’t start to drive faster, okay? Very important pull over, put on your hazards, okay? Call 911 and just have them on speakerphone, okay? And then find some sort of blanket, clothing, something to put over the baby once the baby’s born because we want to try and keep baby warm. For mom stay calm, right? I mean, that’s easier said than done, but hey, there’s usually when people give birth in the car, there’s not a whole lot you can do to like prolong the process and stop the process. So it’s more just accepting, “hey, this is happening. How can I make this happen faster so it’s over and stay safe in the process?” So your baby’s probably kind of going to come out very, very quickly. Okay, go ahead and remove, you have pants on, right? Like take your pants off and everything. Expect a whole lot of fluid to come out of you. It’s going to be a very messy process. Lots of blood, lots of fluid. Once baby comes out, most important thing to do is take baby, put baby skin to skin, okay? And just take that if some, your partner found that blanket, put that blanket over baby. Or if you can’t find a blanket, just stick the baby like kind of inside your shirt. If you have a shirt on or a dress or something, that’ll do as well, but a blanket even better. But yeah, skin to skin, that’s number one. As far as the umbilical cord, this is a big like misconception I think a lot of people have is like, “oh my God, what do I do with the umbilical cord? I have to cut the umbilical cord and I don’t know how”. Just leave it. Don’t worry about it. It’ll, it’ll clot off itself. Guess what? Some people don’t even cut their babies umbilical cord, it’s called a lotus birth. Then they just don’t do anything with it. So it’ll clot itself off, don’t worry. You don’t have to find a sterile scissors and boil some water and don’t worry, okay? So leave the umbilical cord be the other thing that might come out is your placenta. Now, a lot of times I would say if you’ve called 911, if you’ve pulled over, emergency services is going to be getting there pretty quickly. So usually, honestly, these people who give birth in the car, they come up to the hospital and their placenta either came out in the ambulance or they delivered their placenta at the car. But just in case that happens, sometimes they do come out rather quick and you see like a big gush of blood and then your placenta comes out and it kind of just feels, you feel some pressure down there and it just kind of delivers itself. But you can expect that to happen, usually somewhere five to 30 minutes after birth. This isn’t something that, “hey, I took a birth course and they taught me how to give birth in the car. This obviously isn’t something that we’re expecting to happen”. So it’s going to be really, really overwhelming when it happens. But like I said, most important thing, stay safe. You can do it. Usually these births, like I said, happen very quick. The babies come out and they’re fine.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:16:14:

Because people, if they’re having a car birth, it’s usually because the baby’s coming so fast that you just can’t stop it. It’s like a reflex.

Liesel Teen – 00:16:21:

Yeah, it’s like a reflex, exactly. So yeah, like I said, if it’s your first baby, usually first babies don’t come out in the car, but you never know. It’s happened before for sure. But these are usually the moms who have had babies before and they’ve gone a little bit quicker than anticipated. And then they end up delivering their babies in the car. I just had a friend the other day who had her baby in the car and she was in the back of her husband’s work truck, like just. And she, I mean, she didn’t live that far from the hospital, but her first one wasn’t a super quick process, but she had a baby two years ago. And then her second one, she went into labor and hey, her baby girl decided to come out in the car. So like I said, it can be overwhelming and not something you anticipated, but it’s okay. It’s going to happen. 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:17:09:

So it’s uncommon I think is one way you can reassure yourself. And then you can also reassure yourself where if it does happen, it was probably just meant to happen really fast. That was how that baby was going to come out.

Liesel Teen – 00:17:23:

Yeah. You didn’t do anything wrong to like get to the hospital quicker. Your baby just decided it wanted the car to be their birthplace.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:17:32:

And so as a labor and delivery nurse, like I’m sure you’ve met some of those families at the entrance who’ve had a car birth. What’s usually their reaction? Are they in shock or are they laughing because it was hilarious? What is the typical reaction?

Liesel Teen – 00:17:48:

I’d say about half and half and sometimes both. They’re kind of in shock and they’re laughing at the same time. I would say most people are probably in shock. Most partners are very much in shock and they’re not laughing. Maybe they’ll laugh about it later, but they’re very much shell shocked at the experience. But moms, I would say, yeah, it’s about half and half. Maybe the mom has had quick births before and she’s like, “I knew this would happen. I knew this would happen. I was trying to leave earlier than I did, but it happens”. So, yeah, it’s usually a mix between the wide eyes coming in like, “oh, my God, I can’t believe that this just happened. Can you believe that this just happened?” And they’re just bewildered or they’re laughing or they’re like, “should have left earlier, I told you. Told you you should have left earlier”.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:18:38:

So with car births, I think what I’ve found is it’s really interesting that there’s kind of this disconnect between what people worry about and then like real life. So for example, a lot of people really do stress out about the possibility of a car birth. And I’m so glad you covered it because we haven’t covered it on the podcast before, because sometimes just knowing that you can do it makes it easier. But are there any other examples of where you see families have knowledge gaps where they don’t quite know what they don’t know?

Liesel Teen – 00:19:12:

Hmm. I would say, so whenever people ask me this question, I always think of breastfeeding. There’s a learning curve, I would say to breastfeeding. So personally, a hundred percent, I didn’t prepare for breastfeeding with my first one like I did with my birth experience. So yeah, I would say there’s definitely a gap, just with breastfeeding education in general, pumping education in general. I’m trying to think of like other birth related things, but I mean, gosh, it really just depends on the situation. Car birth, breastfeeding, pumping, trying to think of other things, but-

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:19:52:

Yeah. And what are some of the common myths about birth and pregnancy that you work to dispel at the Mommy Labor Nurse platform?

Liesel Teen – 00:20:02:

Yeah, I think a big one out there that I’m really, really passionate about is something. There’s an organization called Push Pregnancy that came out last year, two years ago now, and they’re doing a lot of work to reduce stillbirth. And so there’s a big, big myth out there that your baby will move less as it gets bigger because your baby’s moving, running out of room. So I love to educate people about that, that, hey, if your provider ever told you that your baby’s running out of room, it’s okay. They’re not going to be moving as much. That’s not true. Your baby should still be having movements, daily movements. You shouldn’t, if you do notice changes, it’s very, very important to call your provider and get checked up on baby. That’s a big one. I mean, I remember seeing a YouTube video a couple of years ago from a big influencer and she said that on her video. “Oh yeah, my doctor said that as I’m getting bigger now, the baby’s running out of room”. And it’s like, I mean, I typed a comment, but I’m like, “can I just put this, don’t say that. Don’t say that, that’s not true”. That is not true. We need to be aware of our baby’s movements. Another really, really big one is the whole, my baby’s too big for my pelvis. And my provider told me that my baby’s too big and I have to have a C-section. That one is very common in my DMs. I’ll get people asking about, “hey, I had a growth scan” and my provider said, “oh, the baby’s looking like it’s going to be eight or nine pounds. Why don’t we just schedule a C-section?” And there’s a huge myth that the size of your baby is the most important factor in having a successful vaginal delivery. I think that’s all people think about is like, oh, but people give birth to, I’ve seen an 11 pound baby come out of somebody. It wasn’t fun for her, but it came out and people can have big babies vaginally. So that’s definitely another big one, I would say too. Another one is something that I already talked about is that your partner doesn’t need birth education because they’re not going through the experience. Definitely believe that one for myself, like I said, with my first birth. But yeah, they do. They’re in the room and they’re not experiencing it themselves, but they can do such a good job of supporting you and feel like they’re involved in the process. So your birth partner, whoever it may be, if it’s your husband, your partner, if it’s your mom, if it’s whoever, they can get birth education too. And if they are educated, that can help them help you have a better birth experience too. So partner education, very, very important. And then I would say lastly, that there’s just a big myth out there that birth education just isn’t necessary for anybody. I think a lot of people here in the US at least,  think it’s more not a luxury, but it’s not standard. I wish it were making strides towards like standardizing it in the US, but it’s not just thought of as like, this is something that I do in my prenatal care as I take a birth class and I educate myself about birth. No, it’s like something that is extra that I do. So we would really like to dispel that myth and hopefully eventually have some policy changes out there to where insurance companies, you know, they cover birth classes, get Medicaid involved, all of that good stuff. We really, really are passionate about. It takes a good bit of work, obviously, but that’s really what we’re aiming for is to let people know that, hey, birth education is important. There are studies out there that show the positive impact. I wish there were more studies out there that show the positive impact of birth education and it needs to be standardized in prenatal care. Everybody can benefit from birth education.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:24:09:

Yeah. So kick counting and the importance of that, which we covered in episode 243 and our guests on that podcast from with Stephanie Moody of Count the Kicks was, yeah, she said the same thing about the myth that babies run out of room. And I had not realized that that is myth is being perpetuated still. So, and very important podcasts. If you want to learn more about that big babies, which we talk a lot about at at EBB, and then partners needing education and childbirth education being very necessary. With your clients when you work at the bedside as a nurse, I think you have a really unique position because you’re teaching so many families online and then you’re also in the hospital. Admitting patients and helping them, being with them through birth. What are some of the things you’ve noticed as a nurse? What families seem to be the most prepared or have the most support?

Liesel Teen – 00:25:12:

Yeah, so families who have started the education process before stepping foot in the door. And that is something that I witnessed before I even had my first son of, somebody would come in and say, “I really want to go unmedicated”, right? And I would say, “oh, did you take a birth class or did you do any education about it?” “No, but I have a high pain tolerance”. And it’s like, “oh, okay, I will teach you as much as I can right now. We’ll get through this. I will help you as much as I can, but gosh, I wish I could get you when you’re like 30 weeks pregnant and just really like give you all the information that you need to feel empowered and educated about this process”. So I would say, yeah, 100%, the people who come in and have, obviously I can’t say if you have to take a birth class, your birth experience is 100% going to be more positive, right? You can’t say that, but you have a higher likelihood of having, I would say a positive birth experience and it makes such a difference. You know, let’s say something quote unquote traumatic did happen during your birth, unexpected will say happened during your birth. If you learned about it in a birth class or you heard a podcast of somebody talking about it. It’s your experience coming away from that is going to be so much different in terms of what you, how you view that, whether you view it as traumatic or not. So that’s what we’re about. We want to not sugarcoat stuff and tell people about what to expect if you have a shoulder dystocia or if you have a hemorrhage and we want to get these things in people’s heads, not to scare them, but just to prepare them for, if it happens, because things happen.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:26:59:

A couple times a year I talk with high schoolers about birth and it’s always fascinating to me when they say, why isn’t this taught to everybody my age? And we talk about how birth used to be done. If you could rewind the clock 500 years or so, I would say who would be with you at your birth? And they look at me with these blank expressions, like, I have no idea. And I say, “your relatives in the village would surround you and you would have grown up seeing birth and supporting people at birth. And you’d be surrounded by the other women and folks in your family who knew how to support birth and people giving birth”. And they’re like, “Oh”, and I’m like, “see, we have this big disconnect because have any of you seen a birth before?” And they almost always say no. Occasionally there’s someone who, as a teenager, their mom had another baby and they got to witness that or maybe a sister, but it’s pretty rare. Most of the time, none of them have seen a birth themselves. Their family members have not seen anybody else’s other than when they gave birth. And so there’s that kind of gap when we moved birth into the hospital of taking away that knowledge that we used to carry as communities.

Liesel Teen – 00:28:18:

You’re right. It becomes more of like an unknown process rather than this is just what people do. They give birth. 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:28:24:

This is just part of life. Yeah.

Liesel Teen – 00:28:26:

Yeah, you’re right.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:28:28:

So is there anything else as a nurse that, and a childbirth educator, that you wished people had more awareness of, or should educate themselves about more before they walk into the hospital?

Liesel Teen – 00:28:43:

Yeah. So let’s see, we’ve covered birth education, right? But that kind of is an umbrella term almost where it’s very generalized and- 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:28:51:

Yeah, I mean, there’s different qualities of birth preparation classes. 

Liesel Teen – 00:28:56:

Right, right. We’re very focused on tailored birth education, too. I think that’s where we’ve done a really good job and we’ve seen the benefit of educating moms who are having primary C-sections or they’re, you know, having a scheduled C-section. They can benefit from birth education, as well. That’s a really good one. Hey, like just because you have a scheduled C-section doesn’t mean that you, there’s nothing to learn about how a C-section goes or what your recovery is like. I think that’s a, that’s a really big misconception, I’ll say for C-section moms, but also just moms who come in and want to go unmedicated, it’s a little bit more understood that, “oh, hey, it’s important to prepare for this experience”. But if you’re coming in and having, you want an epidural, you don’t have to take a birth class. That is so untrue. No, we need to educate moms who plan on getting epidurals as well. So yeah, I would say C-section moms for sure. Moms who have epidurals, there’s a whole lot to learn. I had one in my head and it’s gone now. Oh, postpartum care. That’s a really, really big one that just goes under the wayside. I think hospital-based education classes are very generalized and they do an okay job of doing hands-on stuff, obviously, but they do an okay job of doing newborn education, but they don’t do such a great job with postpartum recovery and what is going on with you and your body and your recovery process, because that is, I mean, If you ask anybody, I think anybody would say, “oh yeah, I was very, very under prepared for just what the heck happened during my postpartum experience”. So that’s a big one. I think we just, I mean, we still have a lot of work to do in just preparing people for postpartum because that is, I mean, birth is an event, right? And it’s a concentrated event, but postpartum is this long like breastfeeding, it’s this long process over a few weeks and there’s a lot of stuff that happens to your body and just that’s a, we talk about postpartum obviously in our birth courses and we’re really, really passionate about that as well. But that’s something that a lot of just hospital-based birth classes and just I think, society in general just doesn’t talk about postpartum bodies and what happens and what that time period is like enough.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:31:36:

And I’m thinking back to when I was pregnant with my first in my, the hospital birthing class I took, I think they did discuss postpartum, but basically all they talked about was the bleeding.

Liesel Teen – 00:31:47:

Yeah, it’s like that’s, there’s so much more. Yeah. 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:31:49:

Well, it is a big part of it. Like, to be honest, like preparing and understanding that your body’s going to go through that. But the, everything else, the mental health, the physical health, everything you need to know to survive that period is, is left to the wayside. And I love how your Instagram page especially has a lot of posts about postpartum in addition to birthing and pregnancy and all of that. So it’s like really a well-rounded page. And I had a question, you mentioned epidurals. So I think that is a common misconception to you that if you’re just planning on it, you don’t need to prepare for anything. As an L&D nurse, who’s also an educator, what are some tips you have for families who are planning on using the epidural as their primary form of pain management?

Liesel Teen – 00:32:40:

Yeah. So number one, obviously I’ve already said it, but take a, still can benefit from-

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:32:45:

Go ahead and take a birth class.

Liesel Teen – 00:32:46:

Yeah. Go ahead and take a birth class, number one. You don’t have to skip over that. You can still definitely learn things because guess what? Sometimes moms who come in and want epidurals, they have their babies in the car or they go a little bit too quick and they don’t get their epidurals and they, there are, they need pain coping techniques and they need to be prepared for the likelihood that that definitely might happen. A big thing that I educate my epidural moms about is that you still need pain coping techniques, not just because you might not get your epidural, but hey, just because you get an epidural doesn’t mean you’re probably going to have contractions before you have that epidural. So don’t you want some pain coping techniques to kind of get through your contractions before you get your epidural. So that’s a big one. And we talk about a lot about side effects that people aren’t aware of, like blood pressure dips, and hey, some epidurals aren’t perfect. They sometimes can be one-sided. And hey, guess what? If your epidural is not to your standard, let your nurse know, talk about it. Don’t just sit there and say, “oh, okay, this is what it”, we want to help if there’s something I can do to help you have a better experience with your epidural. Absolutely, I will. Obviously, epidurals, they can’t take away that pressure-like pain from the baby’s head. And that’s a really big one that I cover in the classes that hey, just because you get an epidural, it’s designed to take away contraction pain, but once your baby’s descending in your pelvis, you’re probably, you will. You’re still going to feel that, yeah. And it can be uncomfortable, it can be painful. So again, hey, we need to be talking about some pain coping techniques as well, but hey, this is what happens. So yeah, the pressure versus the pain, and yeah, just speaking up to your nurse and saying, “hey, this one side isn’t numb yet”, or “hey, I can still feel my contraction pain, like what’s going on?” Because if I don’t know, then I can’t help you. So that’s, I mean, that’s for everything, right? So it’s really important to speak up if something’s not going the way you anticipate it because yeah, your nurse, we can’t help you unless we don’t know.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:35:00:

One of the things I talk with parents a lot about is the importance of positioning when you have an epidural and not just lying on your back the whole time. Using preferably peanut balls to get into better positions for the baby to descend and come down through your pelvis. Do you find that in the hospital, are nurses proactively offering peanut balls or do parents have to ask for them?

Liesel Teen – 00:35:22:

So I have it in the courses to say if your nurse is not actively changing your position to speak about it and ask for a peanut ball. But I would say, I mean, I’m blessed that I work at a really great hospital and we’re very just, I mean, it’s a teaching hospital and our nurses are very, very well-equipped with like understanding that you need to still move your patient after you get an epidural. So I would say generally most nurses do use peanut balls or we get the stirrup up and we put their leg on the stirrup and have the, I mean, there’s so many different positions that you can do with an epidural that a lot of people think, “oh, I just have to lie on my back”. No, we can get you on hands and knees. We can squat, I can’t stand you up and have you run around the room, but we can do a lot. But I mean, we can basically do almost everything in the bed that you would think that you can do out of the bed, we can do it in the bed. And it’s really important to be moving because part of what your body does when you go unmedicated is your body’s naturally moving to ease that pain. And that helps to descend baby and get baby further in your pelvis. So once you get an epidural, you’re taking away that pain. So there’s this disconnect of like, “oh, I don’t have to be moving anymore”. So you have to be really purposeful about moving so your baby’s still descending. So yeah, very, very important to still be moving for sure.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:36:53:

And I love how your podcast has a lot of episode options about pain management in labor. And I saw one of your most recent episodes 197 is about other pharmaceutical pain options. If you don’t want an epidural, but you still need something that’s not, that is a medication. So I encourage our listeners to check out your podcast and your Instagram page. Is there anything else you want to share with us?

Liesel Teen – 00:37:16:

Yeah. So we have a lot of really great resources on our page over at Mommy Labor Nurse. You can go to our website, MommyLaborNurse.com. We’ve got our online classes out there, but we have tons and tons of blog articles. You can just click on ‘blog’ and they’re categorized very, very well. They go into great depths of whatever subject you’re searching for. Our Instagram, obviously is a little bit harder to, to categorize. But our Instagram has a ton of really great free, Instagram is free, right? You can just go on there and just scroll videos and learn. We’ve got lots of checklists. So I’ve got a hospital bag checklist. I’ve got our free mini birth class, but it’s a little birth class that you can sign up for. It’s called three secrets to an even better birth. So we talk about movement. We talk, I’m not going to give you a way the three secrets, right? Cause that’s why it’s called secrets, but it’s a little mini birth class. That’s about an hour long that you can sign up for and get a little bit of birth education because we know that not everybody has the means to sign up and pay money for a birth course. And like I said, we’re trying to change that. I really wish I didn’t have to charge a dime and I could just educate everybody for free. But until we get those policy changes in place, it’s tough. You know, you have to charge for services, but yeah, we have a lot of free resources on our website and you can still learn a lot, a lot of stuff for free, for sure.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:38:40:

Yeah, and I love that you have lots of checklists, like a first trimester, second trimester and third trimester checklist on the website. So make sure you go to the website and check out all the different resources that Liesel has. And Liesel, thank you so much for everything you do to educate families and all the hard work you’ve done the last few years.

Liesel Teen – 00:38:57:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This was fun.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:39:00:

And I will say one more thing. You can check out my interview on the Mommy Labor Nurse, where I talk about natural labor induction methods. So you can check, head out to Liesel’s podcast to check out that interview as well. Thanks everyone. And we’ll see you next week. Bye.

Liesel Teen – 00:39:15:

Bye. 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:39:17:

Today’s podcast was brought to you by the Evidence Based Birth® Professional Membership. The free articles and podcasts we provide to the public are supported by our Professional Membership Program at Evidence Based Birth®. Our members are professionals in the childbirth field who are committed to being change agents in their community. Professional members at EBB get access to continuing education courses with up to 23 contact hours, live monthly training sessions, an exclusive library of printer-friendly PDFs to share with your clients and a supportive community for asking questions and sharing challenges, struggles and success stories. We offer monthly and annual plans, as well as scholarships for students and for people of color. To learn more, visit ebbirth.com/membership.

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