On episode 69, Carmen is a functional nutritionist in Vancouver, Canada who helps exhausted career-driven moms lose weight. She is recently a newly single mom with two young boys. Energy and weight loss are the two main things that she focuses on in her practice as a nutritionist. Before she was even ready for kids, she watch a documentary called The Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake that planted a seed for her future prenatal and birth care. When she found out she was pregnant with her first, she went down the rabbit hole to research everything she could on midwife care and homebirth. She always knew that she wanted three kids, so she wanted to try for a second soon after she gave birth to her first.
I could never find my ovulation time… o God, what if I have issues?
She was pregnant at 38 the first time and was nine months postpartum when she decided to try for a second. When she decided to try, she did go out and get ovulation sticks, but they never worked. She couldn’t find her peak ovulation time. When she used the ovulation sticks, there would be a happy face or an unhappy face, but it never told her the peak time with the blinking happy face. At first, she was worried about that because she didn’t know when to try. She said, “Fuck it. I’m just going to have sex.” She remembers being on the flight to Paris when she had a glass of wine. She hoped it would make her sleep through the night flight over there. It did the opposite, it wired her which was strange. Red wine doesn’t usually affect her like that. She was walking through a village and the green cross pharmacy symbols seemed like they were coming out at her. They were everywhere she looked, and something felt off. She never felt anything different, she just thought she should check. She bought two tests. She knew she was supposed to test in the morning when it’s the strongest, but she couldn’t wait. She told herself not to get too excited, but deep down, she knew it was going to happen. It was positive. She was in shock for the next two hours, just shaking. She couldn’t believe it was happening for her.
The first trimester she remembered being really tired. The nausea hit at about six weeks and she was a little depressed. Even opening up her laptop was too much for her. She had no energy to read work emails. Mostly just binged Netflix and watched documentaries. Then the nausea went away around 12 or 13 weeks. It was very humbling. She felt very fortunate she didn’t work in the corporate world. She couldn’t imagine being a woman in early pregnancy working in an office and handling all the nausea. Carmen couldn’t even read her email. She had a lot of resentment not being able to go out to eat and have a glass of wine. That bothered her a lot more than she thought it would. She had a lot of depression in the beginning of the pregnancy. Then she felt guilty because she helps women overcome depression as a professional. She went down the rabbit hole to try to understand why. She found a book stating a certain hormone that regulates production of serotonin can cause depression. That made her feel better. Once she got into the second trimester, she felt better. She had the bump and shopped for maternity clothes. There was a laundry list of things she couldn’t do that were fun to her: She couldn’t use essential oils. She couldn’t drink coffee, no sushi and no cheese or deli meats. She felt like the doctor put the fear of God in her with restrictions.
Getting the right prenatal vitamin was important to her. Carmen wouldn’t recommend buying anything off the shelf at the pharmacy. She recommends going through a reputable practitioner, like a nutritionist to get vitamins. Carmen took a prenatal multi throughout her pregnancy by Pureegenomics which is out of Massachusetts. She wasn’t going to a gym when she found out she was pregnant, so she wanted to continue doing her normal routine. She walked and biked a lot because she lived in downtown at the time. Her activity level dropped because she wasn’t going to her office and wasn’t taking on new clients. She’s always been meticulous about her diet, so she didn’t make any changes when she was pregnant. She had meat aversions in the beginning. She couldn’t be around it. She craved fruit which is odd because she normally doesn’t eat much fruit. She would buy cases of blackberries from a farm. She also craved bread which she is normally gluten-free. She worried the baby wasn’t getting protein. The midwives laughed and said the baby would get what he needs from her body. Carmen did not take any prenatal classes, but she did take some classes with her first baby. She liked the classic Lamaze-type courses. She hired a doula that was like a pit bull for her first pregnancy but wanted a more motherly type the second time.
Carmen did not find out the sex of either baby. She did pay for the NIPT test because she was older. She wanted to be surprised. She feels like there is so much technology in everything she does in her life, she thought it would be nice to have an old school surprise. All she cared about was a healthy baby. She didn’t have a baby shower on purpose because she knew people wouldn’t know what to buy. She had a sip and see after the baby was born, so friends and family could give gender specific gifts.
For this baby, Carmen didn’t have to do as much because she had done all the research prior. She really enjoyed the research aspect of it because, being a health practitioner, the most important thing for her was to have a natural birth because she wanted to share her microbiome with the child for a healthy immune system. For Carmen, it wasn’t to prove that she is better than someone else, it was really health focused. She was trying to do everything she could to be able to have a natural birth regardless of where that happened. Carmen’s now ex wasn’t for the home birth. Through the dialogue she and her now ex had with the midwives, he was comfortable enough. She also lived five minutes from the hospital and her midwives kept reassuring her that if something went wrong, they would know well in advance. The ambulance has two traffic lights to go through, so the risk was minimal. Where Carmen lives, women have to be approved for a home birth, so not just anyone can do it. She registered her birth with the nearest hospital and the hospital provides a birthing kit. The midwifes had all the supplies that they would have in the birthing room, at home. She had access to the same medications that she would have at the hospital, like medications to stop bleeding for a hemorrhage. Carmen was given medications a month in advance that were stored in her refrigerator. Carman had a nanny who was also a trained midwife from the Philippines. Carmen’s mother was there who is a nurse, so she felt very comfortable with her birthing team.
A person’s health isn’t solely defined by their age.
Her second birth at 40, was a perfect textbook home birth. He was out in about 10 minutes. She thinks when she begged them to get her up onto her feet, stool just started coming out. The doula was right there with a large pad that looked like it was used for dog training. She didn’t care in the moment. She knew it was coming fast because that always precedes the baby. She was laid back down on the bed with three intense pushes. Then they put the baby on her. She was so relieved that it was over. She didn’t think about the gender. She still didn’t know. She was just happy it was over. She was happy the baby came out a redhead. She was in a daze and just happy it was over. She remembers him latching right away. She had trouble with her first, so there was so much relief when he latched. There was definitely pain which she was concerned about, but it was fine. She did tear but doesn’t remember feeling anything when they were sewing her up.
She was told to use the toilet which is a very scary thing. She had trouble peeing, so she couldn’t leave until then. She did eventually use the toilet, but she needed help getting back to bed. She didn’t consume the placenta this time because she was worried about not producing enough breast milk like the last time. She was definitely sore. She remembers having to go to the hospital two days later to get her baby checked and walked was excruciating pain with the stitches. Every time she moved her legs, it rubbed. It was brutal. The hardest part was getting up every hour and a half to pump milk in the middle of the night. She would drag herself up from the bed, get herself up onto a donut pillow to take the pressure off and sit there. Sitting up after birth is excruciating. She lived in big pads for the first few days because she was leaking. Freezing pads for comfort didn’t worked for her. She tried the sitz bath, but it was a really weird feeling of sitting in warm water that made her want to pee. She decided to just take a normal bath and use normal pads.
The baby was able to latch. His mouth was so tiny and her nipple was so large, that when he did latch, he couldn’t take enough of the nipple in. It’s excruciatingly painful. She didn’t think it wasn’t going to work. The nurses told her it’s normal: his mouth is tiny, as he grows, he can take more of the nipple in, and then it won’t hurt. There was only one position that kind of worked for her. Carmen obsessively tracked all of her feedings. She never had an issue with milk production with him. It was perfect how much easier and better experience this time around was. The boob is much more convenient. Carmen always had just enough supply. At some point, she just stopped tracking. She let all the anxiety go because she realized it was working. She was in a much better place with this baby. At three months postpartum, she was ready to get back to the gym. She went back to work at 13 months postpartum and every time she went back to work, it was like her mental health just shot up. She was glad to do intellectual things again and talk to people. There was no postpartum depression the second time. Everything was so much better.
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The Business of Being Born Documentary: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995061/