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Nội dung được cung cấp bởi Meagan Heaton. Tất cả nội dung podcast bao gồm các tập, đồ họa và mô tả podcast đều được Meagan Heaton hoặc đối tác nền tảng podcast của họ tải lên và cung cấp trực tiếp. Nếu bạn cho rằng ai đó đang sử dụng tác phẩm có bản quyền của bạn mà không có sự cho phép của bạn, bạn có thể làm theo quy trình được nêu ở đây https://vi.player.fm/legal.
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Episode 283 Danielle From Sakara Life's HBAC + Fill Your Soul With Inspiration

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Nội dung được cung cấp bởi Meagan Heaton. Tất cả nội dung podcast bao gồm các tập, đồ họa và mô tả podcast đều được Meagan Heaton hoặc đối tác nền tảng podcast của họ tải lên và cung cấp trực tiếp. Nếu bạn cho rằng ai đó đang sử dụng tác phẩm có bản quyền của bạn mà không có sự cho phép của bạn, bạn có thể làm theo quy trình được nêu ở đây https://vi.player.fm/legal.

Danielle Duboise, the co-founder of Sakara Life, has changed millions of lives through her advocacy for wellness and nourishment both of the body and the soul. Danielle is also an HBAC mama and shares with us the valuable lessons she has learned from both of her births about the mother-baby connection, surrendering, and the true meaning of an empowered birth.

Danielle and Meagan have just the sweetest conversation that we know will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. Danielle encourages birthing women especially to care for themselves on the deepest levels. Her words align so perfectly with all of the things that are important to us at The VBAC Link. Meagan had chills throughout the entire episode as Danielle spoke and we know you will too!

Sakara Life Website

Danielle’s Podcast

Eat Clean, Play Dirty

Spirit Babies Book

Needed Website

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

Full Transcript under Episode Details

03:51 Sharing your birth plans with others

9:13 Danielle’s first pregnancy with vasa previa

11:29 A humbling birth experience

14:09 Going into labor

17:06 Danielle’s C-section

23:31 Connecting with your baby

32:26 Surrendering

36:06 Choices in birth

39:14 The ripple effect of birth

42:34 Ways to release fear

53:02 Which risks are you willing to take?

56:07 Nutrition and nourishment

Meagan: Hello, Women of Strength. We have an amazing guest for you today. Her name is Danielle and she is the co-founder of Sakara Life. It is a wellness company providing the tools to achieve optimal health and vitality. If you haven’t caught on already listening to our Needed ads and other episodes, health is so important, and optimal health and getting the nutrients and the things that you need in your life is so important in how we handle life.

She is a true pioneer in the health industry and launched the brand in 2012 with her best friend, Whitney. Creating their unique nutrition philosophy which merges modern science with ancient healing wisdom. Since its conception, Sakara has transformed millions of lives through its signature program, functional products, and supplements.

Leading the global movement as an advocate for plants and medicine, Danielle became a nationally bestselling author with Sakara’s debut cookbook which is called Eat Clean, Play Dirty, and is the co-host of the wildly popular, which I also am obsessed with, Sakara Life podcast. A certified holistic health coach, nutritionist, and expert in plant-based living and the microbiome, Danielle is currently pursuing her Master of Science in human nutrition and functional medicine. You can continue to see both personal and professional features of Danielle in things like Vogue, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Couverture– I think is how I say it- and Goop.

She was born and raised in Arizona and Danielle is true to her Sedona roots while living in New York City with her husband, daughter, and son. She is joining us today to share with you her journey. She had a C-section and then went on to have an HBAC as well as giving us some more of her amazing wisdom.

03:51 Sharing your birth plans with others

Meagan: Hello, Women of Strength. We have an amazing guest today. Her name is Danielle. And did I say your last name? Is it Duboise?

Danielle: It’s Duboise. I think technically, Duboise is maybe proper, but we’ve always said Duboise.

Meagan: Duboise. That sounds– I always sat it Duboise in my head because I think I just read it and don’t– anyway. Welcome to the show.

Danielle: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Meagan: Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. So so excited.

Okay, we were talking a little bit before about HBAC, home birth after Cesarean, so she of course is going to share her Cesarean and her HBAC, but we were talking about how it’s something that happens obviously but a lot of people don’t talk about their plans to do it. They don’t want to share it with people, so we will get into that but I’m curious how you felt about it when you were doing it. When I was pregnant and I had my two C-sections, I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was planning on going out of the hospital because I didn’t want the negative.

Danielle: Yeah, I think there are layers. It’s probably multi-faceted. Certainly, when you are pregnant and about to give birth, you have to be very protective of your space. I think people can’t really control their fear. It incites fear in people who aren’t even having children at that moment. It’s crazy how much fear it brings up when you say you’re going to have a home birth.

When I was pregnant with my first, I was planning on a home birth and then I could get into the details of why I risked out of a home birth, etc., but before I risked out, I told a dear friend. It was a couple and they were pregnant with their second. I said, “Yeah. We are thinking about a home birth.” I don’t think I said home birth. I said midwife and then later it came out it was a home birth and his response was, “You know your baby could die, right?”

Meagan: Right?

Danielle: I was 8 months pregnant. I was so emotional. Normally, it wouldn’t have bothered me because I think he learned to put up barriers and that was the fear he was putting on me, but it was such an important reminder of how much you have to protect your space. I think every mother, mother-to-be, parent, and parent-to-be gets to define how they protect their space but I think one of the ways we do it is we don’t talk about how we are going to birth.

Meagan: Yeah. It sucks. We shouldn’t have to hide how we want to birth especially if we are making that decision confidently.

Danielle: Yeah. I think even after you give birth, it’s still something that I shout from the rooftops because now, I think it has a way, same with prolonged breastfeeding, of making other mothers feel less than when it’s just my story. It doesn’t mean it’s the best way to breastfeed. It doesn’t mean it’s the best way to birth. It’s what worked for me. But I think inherent in the complexities of our birthing system, of our culture, the demands on women, me talking about a home birth might make another woman feel like she couldn’t do it or didn’t do it, so I’m careful about how I talk about it in the world too balancing both I want to empower women who want to make that choice and also empower women who don’t want to choose a home birth.

Meagan: Right. That’s what we do here at The VBAC Link. We empower people who want to have a VBAC and women who were like, “This is what I want. I want this.” But then also, we empower those who are unsure and help them find what’s right for them by also not judging anyone for just scheduling a C-section.

Danielle: I think the most important thing and what I want for all birthing bodies is just an empowered birth. You get to define it, but inherent and empowered birth is you get to decide. You are in the driver’s seat. You are in control. You feel supported. You feel safe. You can define what are all of the things that make you feel that way, but the point is that you get to decide. It’s very easy to be a victim to the medical system and I’m careful to use that word, but I really think the way most of the medical system is set up is you can feel very bullied in it not even just in birth. If someone in a white coat comes up to you and says, “You have to do it this way, otherwise you are risking the life of your unborn child,” it’s a pretend choice they are giving you. “You could do this. You don’t have to, but your baby might die.” You’re not giving a woman a choice. You’re masquerading a choice. I think you can feel really bullied in those scenarios. That’s the antithesis of an empowered birth.

Meagan: I love that you pointed that out. I can connect to that just in my own birth and as a doula watching hundreds of people give birth, seeing that come in and happen.

Danielle: Yeah, I bet you see that all the time.

9:13 Danielle’s first pregnancy with vasa previa

Meagan: Okay, so you mentioned that your first birth was a planned home birth and there were some things that happened that shifted, and obviously, it was a C-section. Tell us more about that.

Danielle: Yeah, so I live in New York City where I would say home births are not maybe as popular as they are in other parts of the country. The insurance rates for midwives are pretty insane. Even just to decide I wanted a home birth in New York City was a feat and to find the right midwives. I had planned for it. I had a really great pregnancy, but then at around week 32, we went in for one of our scans and they found vasa previa.

Vasa previa is kind of like placenta previa but it’s where the veins, the fetal vein come out of the Wharton’s jelly and is in the way of the birth canal. If I were to have gone into labor when that happened, then the fetal vein could burst and they say it’s about seven seconds before the baby would bleed out.

So I went from, I had this beautiful home birth planned. I had the bathtub. I had this midwife I loved to, “You have vasa previa. If it doesn’t move–” it had to move a half a centimeter. “If it doesn’t move in the next two weeks by the time you hit 34 weeks, you have to sit in a hospital bed until you are full-term and then we’re going to induce you.”

It was one of those moments where you just kind of watch reality melt in front of you. It went from my home birth to the most medicalized birth you could imagine.

Meagan: Yeah.

Danielle: I wouldn’t say I’m a religious person, but I’m a deeply spiritual person and my husband and I were praying every single day. We were visualizing the vein moving. We were doing so many things. We had this little baby shoe that we would pray over and put all of our energy into just– it could make me cry. Just bring her here. Get her here.

11:29 A humbling birth experience

Danielle: That’s where you are very humbled. We can talk more about this later, but this idea that the most important thing is a healthy baby. I very much disagree with that. I think that’s one of the missing pieces in this conversation of empowered births, but in that prayer was, “I want a healthy baby and I want a birth that we both need.”

That became my prayer instead of the birth that I wanted.

Meagan: Yes, that we both need.

Danielle: That we both need. I was humbled. I was born C-section in the 80’s and my mom didn’t breastfeed. It was a different time then. She didn’t breastfeed by choice because the doctors were kind of like, “You have a choice. You could breastfeed or you don’t have to. You could just do formula,” and my mom chose formula because that was right for her. I had a lot of judgment. I had a lot of judgment that she didn’t even try a natural birth. I had a lot of judgment that she didn’t even try to breastfeed and I was very humbled. I was served a dose of humble pie.

My daughter and I ended up with the birth that we both needed to work through that karma of this judgment I had. What ended up happening was I had to move from my home birth midwife to a hospital. I found these midwives in New Jersey about an hour away from my house in New York City. They had a birthing clinic that was in a hospital so I could go there.

But you know, it’s an hour's drive. It’s New York City. You don’t own a car so you have to rent. It was a whole thing just to get there. Just the change was so monumental to go from what really felt like this beautiful, safe place to give birth with these people I had built a relationship with and then I was thrown into this other practice. I didn’t really vibe with the midwives there. It was so much more medicalized. I just started to feel really scared even before I was giving birth.

I will say that my HBAC offered so much peace and forgiveness for myself because I realized in my second birth what I didn’t have in my first and why I couldn’t go to the places I went in my home birth in my hospital birth because I didn’t feel safe there.

The vein moved and so I went back to a no-risk, regular pregnancy, but I had already moved to the hospital and it was going to be too much to go back. My husband was kind of freaked out at that moment too like, “What if the baby moved a half a centimeter again? Let’s just be in a hospital.” I understood that.

14:09 Going into labor

Danielle: I went into labor and I think the fear hit us. We just went to the hospital too early. All of the things they tell you not to do that I think most first moms and first parents just do because it all feels so new.

Meagan: Well, it does and it’s like, “Well, wait. These signs mean I’m having a baby and I’m having a baby at this place so I should go there.”

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. I knew the moment I went into labor. I wasn’t in active labor for a while. I could just feel waves, but they weren’t painful waves. I was just a little crampy, so I stayed at home for 24 hours there. My water didn’t break, but then it just started getting more and more intense.

They started getting closer together, but my water still hadn’t broken so we just decided to go to the hospital because it’s also an hour away. You don’t want to get caught in New York City traffic because it could have easily been three hours away.

So we go. I also had to change doulas because the doula in New York City understandably wasn’t going to travel. She had small kids. So it was just all newness. I didn’t necessarily vibe with my doula. I didn’t feel safe in her arms. She was kind of more like– and I always tell people that you have to find the doula that matches and is the yin to your yang. She just wasn’t that for me. She was kind of small and fairy-like and very airy, but I’m very airy. I wanted a lioness that was just going to catch me and hold my hand and be really grounding for me.

It just feels off the minute it started. It wasn’t. It was right. It was exactly what was supposed to happen. I went and when I got to the hospital, I was only 2 centimeters. I had already been in labor for about 24 hours. It wasn’t like I couldn’t sleep, but I didn’t sleep well. I was tired. They were like, “You can go home an hour away. You could get a hotel around here.” We decided to get a hotel and as I was leaving, my water broke and they were like, “Just stay.”

Danielle: So God bless them, they let me do a natural labor for about 36 hours in a hospital setting.

Meagan: That is impressive.

Danielle: I’m really grateful. I chose that hospital because it was run by midwives. They definitely delivered. They let me really try. I hit this moment where I just ran out of steam and my contractions slowed. In retrospect, if that had been a home birth, I think they would have just given me some honey and helped me try and take a nap.

Meagan: Got to bed.

Danielle: Yeah, but that wasn’t what happened. It was C-section time. I was so tired that I just said, “Okay.”

17:06 Danielle’s C-section

Danielle: We went off and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. The scariest part was how heavy the medication is and I had been laboring. I think with emergency C-sections, I had been in labor for almost 48 hours and I was so tired. The toll of a C-section is big on anyone, but then especially if you had been in labor for as long as I had been.

That was the hardest part and recovery is intense. Recovery, I think, was also emotionally heavy for me too just when you had planned– and they tell you don’t plan for your birth, but of course you do. And then when you have the exact opposite of what you thought, it’s hard not to judge yourself. It’s hard not to wonder what you could have done differently. It’s hard not to be sad and upset and mad and all of those feelings.

So it took me a long time to look through those feelings and kind of realize that my daughter and I had the exact birth we were supposed to have.

Meagan: That you needed. What did you feel like helped you get through those and walk through them? Was it time and processing and finding that, “Hey, I made these decisions and they weren’t maybe what I thought I’d make, but again, that’s what I needed to have this experience in the end,”? What helped you walk through that?

Danielle: One book I always recommend to people is Spirit Baby. Have you heard of it?

Meagan: No, I haven’t but I’m going to write it down. We’re going to put it in the show notes here.

Danielle: It’s a really powerful book about– it’s written by this medium and he talks about sometimes mediums talk to spirits in the past. Sometimes they talk to angels. He realized that the spirits he was seeing and talking to were spirits that were about to come into the world so he called them spirit babies.

The book is just this beautiful story after story of how he would talk to these spirits and then he would help couples talk to those spirits that they were about to bring in and he helped so many people who were having trouble getting pregnant, etc. It just reminded me so much of we think because we are here on Earth and I thought, “I’m pregnant. This is what I want to do. This is what I’m going to do.” I really forgot that I’m bringing a spirit into the world. I’m a vessel. I’m not the driver. We are driving together. It’s the same thing.

Then they are born and it’s the exact same thing. You are not my child. You are not mine. You are a soul that came to this Earth and you are on your own path. We’re just here to guide each other and help each other. That was a big part of what helped me. I remembered that she also needed a certain type of birth. It didn’t have to be a mistake that we got there together and just trusted that that was what we needed, but also that maybe it was a lesson I needed. I’m not the boss of her, you know?

So that helped. There’s also something called havening you can work with. I don’t know if doulas do it. I worked with a midwife, but it’s physical touch to help you work through birth trauma. It’s a lot of just rubbing the arms up and down, having someone just help you physically release the emotions around it.

Meagan: Is it similar to tapping?

Danielle: Kind of. It’s like this, like rubbing. It can be a lot of different things. It’s havening. It’s creating a safe space for birth trauma.

Meagan: Okay, I’m loving this.

Danielle: So talking about it was really helpful and one of the ways I found my midwife for my home birth VBAC, there was not a single midwife in New York City that would do it, but I started making this relationship with this woman upstate about two hours away. She was in her 70’s, this midwife, so she did the havening with me. She just was like, “Just tell me what happened, baby. Just tell me what happened. It’s all right. I hear you. Just tell me what happened.” Just that safe space to tell my story to someone who so deeply knew the birth space and could understand and knew exactly how I was feeling and the safe space I needed and that I didn’t have, it was really healing to talk to those havening ears of hers.

Yeah, and she was in her 70’s. She was my midwife for my HBAC and I was her second to last birth. She retired shortly after.

Meagan: Wow.

Danielle: Yeah. You hear the stories about midwifery and women with these powers and the history of how witches have been demonized and you start to see the connections because you start to see the magic. You’re a doula. You have magic. There’s no way I could have done what I did with the birth of my son at home without my doula and my midwife. I really think it’s the most beautiful form of sorcery and magic to create that safe space because I had to go to another world to bring my son here. You have to cross the veil. You have to go somewhere else, so in order to do that, you have to have people holding a safe space for you where your body is and making sure your body is okay, that your soul is okay.

Going through that experience was also very healing from my first birth because I was like, “Oh. This is what a safe space looks and feels like.” It’s not what I had in the hospital, so okay. That’s okay. I didn’t have that with my first birth. If I had, I think she would have been born vaginally and that’s okay too. It offered a lot of forgiveness.

23:31 Connecting with your baby

Meagan: I love that you said that it offered a lot of forgiveness. That is something that is very, very, very difficult to do. A lot of the time, we blame ourselves for things like we were talking about, but the forgiveness. I forgive this experience. I recognize I had this. I accept that I had this. It isn’t what I’m having now. I’m recognizing that, but I’m going to forgive that and I’m going to take that step forward and find that healing step in this right direction.

Danielle: Yeah, and also I will say two things. One, when my daughter was born and my daughter is the one I had the C-section with. I melted into her. We melted into each other. We were just so connected. It’s inexplicable. When my son was born– and with my daughter, I had the most medicalized birth. I was traumatized after the epidural. I had the worst shakes because I hadn’t eaten so it was just really traumatizing physically, but then my connection with her was immediate.

I had the most beautiful home birth with my son. Truly, he was born by a fireplace and my husband and daughter caught him. It was snowing the most beautiful, fluffy snow. It was literally perfect. I did not feel connected. It took a while to build a connection to my son.

Meagan: Picture perfect.

Danielle: I think also, we have these expectations of, “Oh, if I have this birth, then everything will be just perfect and I’ll feel so connected to my child and my child will latch right away.” None of that means that. So also, releasing those expectations of that. The birth that you want is for you and I think the more you can get clear on that the better, then when you invite the soul of your child to have the birth that they need, that’s when you start to really learn from each other.

I don’t know if the birth I had with my son was maybe what he wanted. I don’t know, because it didn’t feel like when he got here that he was ready to be here. He probably could have waited around for a little while. I almost feel like he participated in the birth that I really needed and that my soul really needed. Then he kind of made me pay for it. He didn’t sleep for two years.

I mean, he’s the best. I have such a special connection with him now, but it took a while so it doesn’t mean that just because you have the birth of your dreams that that’s going to mean you have the connection of your dreams. There is so much within our power, but there is just also so much outside of it.

Meagan: Yeah. Whoa. I just got the chills listening to you. It’s so amazing to look at it that way because I think too a lot of moms that have had C-sections that maybe didn’t have the connection, they are looking for it from a different experience or the same thing where you were like, “I had that immediate connection. I didn’t have the experience that I was desiring or planning on, but I had that immediate connection.” It just differs from everybody. Like you said, what we need, what our babies need, what that journey is looking like, whatever that looks like for us, is usually what is going to unfold. Sometimes it’s not exactly what our minds would write down on a piece of paper or draw.

Danielle: Exactly. That’s part of that forgiveness too. It’s just– and this is just I think getting older now is what it’s allowed me to think in this way because the younger me definitely wouldn’t have. It’s just to let things unfold as they are meant to be and trust that they are unfolding in exactly the way they are supposed to. Thank goodness, I had that after my son was born. I think that birth offered me a lot of space for him to be the little soul he needed to be. He wasn’t the kid that was going to melt into me right away. So just letting him be him was medicine for me. It really was to allow him the space instead of me saying, “Oh, I have to have this kind of connection with my son immediately when they are born.”

We are taught that. We are taught that equals how good your birth is or how good of a mother you are. That’s not to say– he was a great latcher, but he was energetic. I could tell my son needed some space. He was like, “Let me figure out who I am. Let me figure out who I am.” Yeah. And just offering that I think to our children and to ourselves is such a gift.

Meagan: When you were talking about birth plans and planning, if we have this thing in our mind where we absolutely have this plan and we think that we absolutely have to connect with that child or that child has to connect with us, but then we start doubting, “Well, why does that child not like me?” Like you said, “Am I not a good mom? What did I do to fail? Maybe my birth didn’t go as planned and that’s why we are not connecting because I failed my baby.”

This is literally where our minds go so often and it doesn’t need to go there. I think in a lot of ways, it’s because the world tells us that that’s what we have to have or that’s what the movies are showing us or Instagram or Facebook is showing us.

Danielle: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. None of those things can show your energetic connection.

Meagan: No.

Danielle: I think having a mantra– and this is a life mantra, but I mean as we all know and I imagine everyone listening is either a mother or going to be soon, but the mantra of– and I say this to my kids all of the time. We are right where we are supposed to be and I’m right here. Even in the middle of a meltdown. “Baby, we are right where we are supposed to be. It’s all right. I’m here. I love you.”

The more we can remind ourselves that too, in a birth we weren’t ready for or didn’t think we would have, just remind ourselves that we are right where we need to be. We are safe. This is all part of the cosmic lesson that each of us individually needs and trusting and surrendering. I mean, that is why women and bodies with wombs give birth because we are the feminine– forget gender– the feminine are the ones who know how to surrender. The masculine are the ones that go out and achieve and make things. They use their will. The feminine is the vessel. The feminine call things to it, so the more that you can deeply surrender to that, I think the more we can really embody whatever is happening in that moment instead of feeling like it is happening to us.

32:26 Surrendering

Danielle: It’s just so true in birth too. Talk about the ultimate surrender.

Meagan: Oh my gosh, yes. It can be so difficult to put ourselves in that next space of surrendering and accepting. I think a lot of people will say, “No, don’t surrender. You have to fight.” I don’t believe that if we are surrendering, we are giving up.

Danielle: No, I think it’s the opposite.

Meagan: Yeah. But I think sometimes that’s how it’s looked. Surrender is like, “Here. Do whatever,” or just, “I’ll surrender and I’ll give this experience,” but I don’t think it’s that way.

Danielle: No, surrender is when you become what you are calling in. If you are calling in an empowered birth, you become that empowered being that has an empowered birth so that you can have it. You surrender to being that empowered person. You don’t surrender to, “Okay, whatever you say.” That is being a victim of circumstance which, by the way, we will also all do that too. I did that many times.

Meagan: Sometimes it’s natural. It just happens.

Danielle: That’s okay too. I was really grateful in that case to have– there was a part of me when my midwife said, “Okay, it’s C-section time,” I was like, “You know what? Okay.” I think I probably could have fought, but I was just like, “You know what? Okay.”

So it’s not to say that– I think victim can be a bad word. I don’t think it’s a bad word. I think sometimes, you just need to fall into someone’s very capable hands and be okay with that, but that is very different to surrender. Surrender is embodying what you want, calling it to you, and surrendering to your embodiment of it.

Meagan: Absolutely. I think that is such a powerful message to this community specifically especially because of what a lot of the times we as VBAC moms are going through and where we are mentally through our prep and through our past traumas and through our doubt. A lot of the time we doubt because the world is telling us to doubt.

Danielle: To all of the mamas and mamas-to-be out there, just giving birth to a human is the most miraculous, greatest thing in the universe but then to also be up against what we are up against in society and the medical community– and I’m not saying anything bad. I have very dear friends who are OB/GYNs and I love them. They have the best intentions, but that doesn’t mean their actions are the best.

As you know, I have a podcast and I had an incredible OB/GYN come onto the podcast and talk about how we have lost reverence for the birthing body, that it’s so medicalized that we are constantly– just by being in a hospital, just by being medicalized, the birthing body is treated like this weird vessel that is just kind of in the way of the baby getting here so you just have to keep the vessel alive. That’s it. You just have to keep the vessel alive and then get the baby out. That’s really why I hate this idea of all that matters is a healthy baby. That’s absolutely not all that matters.

36:06 Choices in birth

Danielle: That’s one of the things that you have to confront when you choose a home birth. You have to confront that. You have to confront that perhaps your choices will lead to outcomes that you don’t want, but you have to choose. I believe that how you choose to birth impacts not just you but your child and not just your child in the moment of birth, but your child for the rest of your life, their imprint.

Choose is a really important word there. It’s not like everyone has to choose a home birth otherwise your kid will be messed up. It’s how you choose to birth, how you choose to show up to that situation, how you choose to embody, and how you choose to feel empowered. Those are the makings of magic. I think when we say, “All that matters is a healthy child,” we are treating a woman’s body like it doesn’t matter. We are treating a woman’s experience like it doesn’t matter. It is a trauma that lives through generations. Even my grandmother was born via forceps. Her mother was put out using chloroform.

Meagan: Yes.

Danielle: We’re not that far from it even today. Especially in America, we have so lost our way on how powerful women are and how powerful birthing bodies are. There have been studies that show the more women that are in the room with a birthing woman, the more positive outcomes there are. There is a magic to women gathering and lifting each other up so that’s my hope for women. It’s not that we have all home births or all one way of birthing. It’s that we feel empowered and we let birth feel like the magical experience it can be even if you choose an epidural. It doesn’t matter. The details almost don’t matter. It’s how you feel throughout it.

I have a dear friend who had a very empowered C-section. She was like, “I chose it. I wanted it. I felt great.” She felt in control of her birth. That is an empowered birth.

Meagan: Yes.

Danielle: I think we can use the best of what the medical system gives us to help you have the birth you want, but the important thing is that you get to choose what you want for your body because your experience as the birthing body really matters.

Meagan: Wow. Seriously, I feel like you could be on this podcast for hours and hours and hours. I just keep getting the chills over and over again.

Danielle: The world’s longest podcast.

Meagan: It’s like my feet are on a cooler or something because I can feel chills from my feet all the way up to my head. It’s such a powerful message here.

Danielle: This topic is so dear to my heart because I really felt like I was healing generational trauma. I could feel it. I could feel the trauma. My mom didn’t even know what an empowered birth was, God bless her. She didn’t even know it was an option. I want different stories for my daughter.

39:14 The ripple effect of birth

Danielle: I don’t know how out there you want to go, but I believe it’s connected to our sexuality. I believe it’s connected to the light within each of us, how we birth, how we choose to birth, the space we hold for birth. We tend to treat birth the moment the baby comes out and it is just so much bigger and broader than that in my opinion. It has such a ripple effect.

Yeah, so it’s important to me that women know what their options are. A lot of women don’t even know. When I got pregnant with my first, I was like, “What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?” I didn’t even know the basics.

Meagan: Yeah, I mean, people still. It’s 2024 and people will be like, “Oh, what do you do?” I’m like, “Oh, I’m a doula.” They’re like, “Wow. How long did school take for that? How is catching babies?” I’m like, “No, no, no, no. I don’t catch babies.” Even still today, doulas and midwives are completely confused. We don’t even know now.

We do have providers saying things and it just keeps carrying. I had one provider ask me after a client of mine had an unexpected, undesired Cesarean after she was holding baby. We got baby nursing which she was so happy about. She was getting some of the things she wanted and he said, “Is she over it yet? I mean, look. Everyone’s healthy right there.” So to your healthy comment, there’s so much more to all of this and like you said, it’s a ripple effect.

Where it starts, if we go all the way back to where the baby actually starts and how amazing and beautiful it is, and then all the way up to birth, but then even further and greater. There are so many things in our outside world today that can try to stomp these down and not help us find that empowerment or belief or faith in our bodies. It’s hard to sometimes find that.

Danielle: Yeah. I think most women I know are also the best copers I’ve ever met. That’s a problem because I can promise you guys one thing and that’s that your emotions don’t just go away when you cope. They live inside of you and until you work through them and breathe through them and put them out and get them out and move them out and cry them out and talk them out and whatever you need to do to get them out, but if you had a traumatic birth and then you had a practitioner say something like that to you and then you told yourself, “Oh, yeah. No, it was fine because my babies are fine.” It’s not fine. It’s not fine.

It’s okay to let it not be fine and there are lots of people, doulas included, who can hold that space for you and let it not be fine. You know, I had to do that before I could even think about having a second and having a home birth because we all know if you don’t work through your fears, they show up in birth.

42:34 Ways to release fear

Meagan: Oh, yes they do.

Danielle: I had lots of fears going into my birth so it’s not like they all go away, but I had at least faced them. There were no dark corners. There was no, “Okay, I’m just going to pretend like this never happened and just go into birth,” because those are the things that show up.

I think for my first birth one of the things that showed up was, “Okay, anything but a C-section. Whatever it is, episiotomy fine. Just not a C-section,” and then that’s exactly what happened and that’s exactly what showed up. You do have to– and that’s part of back to our conversation about surrender. Surrendering is so hard because it means you had to face all of your fears. You can’t surrender into the places that you won’t go. Surrendering means you’ve made all of the space. You’ve faced your fears.

My midwife with my home birth said– because I got to 10 centimeters with my daughter. I was at 10 centimeters for a long time and then it was too painful. I just couldn’t release into the surrender. So because I had worked with her on a lot of my birth trauma, she knew very well about my first birth. She was like, “We’re going to get to this moment and you’re going to have to choose. You’re going to get to 10 centimeters with me and you’re going to have to choose. I’m going to hold your hand and I’m going to need you to choose yes. We’re going to bring this baby boy into this world right here. I need you to choose yes.”

That space– we had been through my deepest fears and my deepest fears were that I was going to lose him or I wasn’t going to be able to do it and I was going to have to go to the hospital. We had talked through my deepest fears so I could just surrender into them instead of hide from them. I think that’s why birth asks us to be just so, so brave because you can’t fake your way through your fears.

Meagan: You can’t.

Danielle: And insecurities and all the things when it comes to birth. It really does strip you down.

Meagan: Yes. Have you ever heard of a mother’s blessing? Have you ever heard of that?

Danielle: Tell me what it is.

Meagan: Okay, so one of my doulas wanted to throw me this mother’s blessing. It was essentially a party for me, but it was very– I don’t even know how to explain it.

Danielle: We call it a circle, like a mother’s circle.

Meagan: It was very connecting.

Danielle: That’s what I call it, yeah.

Meagan: Yes. So they called it a mother’s blessing, so a mother’s circle. We did. We got in the circle and we talked about these fears. These are the women within my birth that were welcoming in my birth or women who I was welcoming into my circle of trust along the way because I didn’t feel like I could tell everyone I wanted to have a vaginal birth after two C-sections out of the hospital.

Danielle: Wow.

Meagan: We had this moment of connection where they asked me, “What are your fears? Let these out. Let these flow through you and not get bogged up.” Then we all connected and created this crazy bracelet. It was really, really amazing. Each one gave me more power in the bracelet and we would wrap it around. We were all connected then cut it and we all wore it together. It was the weirdest thing, but every time I looked down at this bracelet– we talked about it earliest, but the connection, the power, and the magic. I felt this magic of people who weren’t even with me in that very, very moment, but they were so with me. It really helped me face some of those fears and remember that I’ve faced those.

Danielle: Yeah.

Meagan: They’re still coming in my mind for a minute.

Danielle: And you’re not alone. This is the sorcery I’m talking about. This is why most of the “witches” that were burned at the stake were actually women in the birth space because it is magic. You have to have a cauldron and spells and blessings and magic to bring souls into this world. Yeah. I had a baby blessing. It was a baby/mama blessing that was just so beautiful. I wish it were more institutionalized versus a baby shower because you don’t need a baby shower. You need a mama shower.

Meagan: Right? I know I felt so uplifted.

Danielle: You are the one that’s bringing this baby. Yeah. Yeah. We did a birthing necklace so if anyone listening is wondering, you can Google mama blessings or mama circles. There are some really beautiful things that you can do. You have someone start a string for a necklace and you ask everyone to bring a bead.

Meagan: Yep, I had that too.

Danielle: You around and everyone puts a blessing and why they chose that bead for you and what they are wishing for you in your birth or in your motherhood and at the end, you have this beautiful necklace. I wore both of my necklaces during both of my births.

There’s another thing where all of the mamas who are in your circle are given a flower and they give you one piece of wisdom and then hand you the flower. There are so many beautiful things you can do.

Meagan: There’s the candle. Have you heard about the candles?

Danielle: No, what did you do with the candles?

Meagan: So the flower was the bracelet part and then I also had the beads. I actually have a picture of me in labor holding onto that and I just felt the power within my palm. We did this candle. Everyone has a candle and everyone gives really positive, encouraging words, or a mantra or something, then when you go into labor, you let your team and you let your circle know and everyone lights this candle.

Danielle: Yes, they did this too. Yeah. The labor candle. Yeah, it’s just so beautiful and it matters. It really matters so when you say, “All that matters is a healthy baby,” it’s like, “No. How you get to the healthy baby also really, really matters.”

Meagan: Yeah, I want to say, “No, duh. Of course, a mom that is alive and a baby that is alive and healthy matters. No brainer.” But why are we saying all that matters? Why is it all that? Why that?

Danielle: There is a lot inherent in birth that is death. I think that really, really scares Americans and we don’t confront it. We don’t talk about it. We hide it. We hide away our elderly. They are not the wise people of our society that they actually are. We hide from death. If you hide from death, you hide from birth. I don’t think you get to choose, so there is a reason that birth is treated the way it is and it’s because there is a lot of fear around what it means to die in this country.

Meagan: Yeah.

Danielle: I think the part that just makes me the most sad in that conversation is that women are not taught how powerful and capable they are and their bodies are and how much wisdom our bodies have.

Danielle: I was just talking to a woman the other day and she was like, “Oh yeah.” She is pregnant and she said, “My OB is worried because I have smaller hips.” I’m like, “When you go to the studies, literally, that is just bad medicine. That is like malpractice to make a woman feel like her body made a baby it cannot birth.”

So inherently, now she has this seat of fear that her body can’t do it, that her body is not capable, and it’s terrible. I’m so grateful for the role of conventional medicine. I’m so grateful there is a 9-1-1 number you can call if you home birth is going the wrong way. We don’t have to choose. Medicalized birth can be for emergency situations and thank God. Thank God for it.

Meagan: Yes. Yes.

Danielle: But until you get to that emergency, your body is so capable. Your body can absolutely birth your baby and the more you surround yourself with people that believe that too, I mean, trying to do that, trying to birth a human naturally and just to keep your soul, mind, and body in the face of someone who thinks you can’t do it, might be impossible. It might be impossible.

Meagan: That’s what I was going to say. Not only does this woman have this seed of doubt in her mind, but her provider is doubting her before she even begins. It reminds me of that OB you said you had on the podcast on Sakara Life. We are losing this. We are placing doubt before we even get there and I’m going to tell you right now. That provider is probably not going to wait, probably not going to trust the body, probably not going to trust the process, and things are going to be pushed whether she has a C-section or not. I’m not saying that, but if someone doubts someone’s ability before labor even happens that they can’t get the baby out of the pelvis, that is a red flag that is an issue.

Think about how many patients that provider probably has that is placing doubt.

Danielle: I think connected to everything we are saying, our fear of death, our fear of– we have convinced ourselves that a medicalized birth is a risk-free birth or at least a lower-risk birth.

Meagan: Safer.

53:02 Which risks are you willing to take?

Danielle: We just know from the literature that’s not true. In fact, it’s the opposite, but even if it were true, I have a firm belief that for every action, there is a reaction. For every– and what I mean by that is in order to bring a human into this world, it’s going to be hard.

People are like, “I’m just going to do a C-section.” There is no world where a C-section is easy. There is no risk-free easy way out. We can tell ourselves that there are, but there is not. So back to this idea of the empowered birth are which risks are you willing to take? Which risks are you comfortable with? Which risks are you okay with for your body? Those are the questions we have to be asking. Not, “Oh, I’m choosing a home birth because I’m just a little bit more risk tolerant.” That’s not what it is at all.

Meagan: Exactly, yeah.

Danielle: Or, “I’m choosing a C-section because I just want it to be easy.” That’s not what it is at all. I’ve had a C-section. It’s not easy at all. I think we fool ourselves in the conversation by making things seem safer, seem easier, and they’re not.

Meagan: Well, I feel like these things we are telling us is a way to justify our actions. A provider who is going to tell someone that they have CPD and their op-reports, it may be a way to justify the action of a performed Cesarean on their part. We say these things to soften what we are doing.

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I know. I’m sure you’ve had conversations around The Business of Being Born, but that’s very real.

Meagan: It’s very real.

Danielle: That’s why, in my opinion, conventional medicine is perfect for acute, emergency situations because it is a business, and thank God they are there for those emergencies, but if you are not in an emergency moment which, by the way, birth is not an emergency, then I don’t think– and this is true even outside of birth. I have my Masters in functional medicine and human nutrition. It’s the same with nutrition. There’s no role for pharmacology and conventional medicine when it comes to everyday health and wellness.

Thank God that it’s there if someone has a heart attack or God forbid gets hit by a bus or something like that. Thank God for conventional medicine, but they do not have the tools to help with chronic, everyday metabolic issues. What they are trained to do is give pharmaceutical drugs that mask symptoms or change physiology to mask symptoms, but it’s not this “well care” that we need both in birth and outside of birth.

56:07 Nutrition and nourishment

Meagan: And nutrition is such a passion of mine and something that I would love to also have an episode in the future because there is so much to do with exactly what you were saying. It’s not just birth. There is so much more and that’s a big one. That’s a really, really big one.

Danielle: I like to talk about it in terms of nourishment because I think that nutrition is scientific and there is nothing scientific–

Meagan: Nourishment.

Danielle: Yeah, and to think of it that way because I think so many times women are taught from the lens of nutrition that this is what you should eat for your pregnancy and not eat and this is what you should eat postpartum and not eat. Do you feel nourished? Do you feel good? Do you feel whole? Nourishment is inclusive of your emotional connections with your partner, your emotional connections with your community, your connection to why are you on this planet, your spirituality, and your religion.

Nourishment is multifaceted where nutrition tends to just be, “Did you get enough protein?”

Meagan: Proteins and carbs and fats. Did you hit your macros today?

Danielle: Yeah. It’s such a boring conversation that we haven’t been having for most of humanity. This is our small, small, small understanding of what the body needs and it’s one lens into what the body needs. A lot of my work is trying to help people understand that through the eyes of nourishment, we can actually transform our health because they are thinking about both how we feel from not just a physical standpoint, but from an emotional and spiritual one as well.

Meagan: Absolutely. I love how you were like, “It’s just a small lens.” There is so much. There is so much.

Danielle: I will tell you the deeper I get into literature, the deeper I get into scientific studies, and the deeper we go into the mechanics of the cell, we go one step farther and we are in quantum and then we have no idea what’s going on, so it’s just this constant reminder of how it’s so cool that we can do heart transplants. That is so awesome and the geek in me and the scientist in me is so intrigued.

I so love understanding the biochemistry of nutrition, what’s really going on, and what our mitochondria need to function. I love that and it’s so, so cool that our kids are starting to understand that and can make real changes in people’s lives by understanding that, but also, we can’t— I personally can’t practice there without having reverence for how much we don’t know and making sure that even though I can say, “Hey, after your labs and this questionnaire, I think you might be deficient in a couple of these things, so let’s put you on these things,” if I don’t then also have the conversation of, “How is your relationship with your mom because you’ve talked about some trauma?”

Those conversations are so separate from conventional medicine. I hope the new wave of medicine is the whole person and there is a whole assessment.

Meagan: Well, yeah. I know time is up, but I was having a conversation about this whole thing. Okay, maybe we are deficient in these areas, but how is our life? How is our sleep? How is our connection? How is our cortisol? What are we doing in addition over here? That’s just not talked about a ton.

Danielle: Yeah. I will say this as the nutritionist. I think soul health is way more important than any other health. The more you take care of whatever your soul needs whether it is deep breaths or a vacation or a mantra or a really good book by a fireside or some hot chocolate or a glass of wine or a bowl of french fries after a late night of dancing, answering those questions about what your soul needs, I think, are the most important and then once we can do that, we start to uncover, “Oh, you know what? I want to eat really well because I have this connection to myself.” The way we take care of ourselves is a reflection of our connection to ourselves so I think soul health as our first priority usually ends up being the thing that has the greatest impact because of the ripple effects.

Meagan: Yeah, it helps us find the connectivity again because sometimes we are slightly disconnected then we find our soul and we find what we need, and then we flourish through there.

Danielle: Yeah, it’s like if you don’t have that, then it’s just another to-do list. “Oh, I need to check off meditating. Oh, I need to check off getting my greens today.” That’s exhausting.

Meagan: It is exhausting. I’ve done it.

Danielle: Yeah.

Meagan: I’m guilty right here.

Danielle: We all have. We all have, then you just end up chronically stressed and you have adrenal fatigue and it’s beside the point so it’s trying to anchor people on those soul questions first.

Meagan: Absolutely. Well, I encourage everybody listening to tune into your podcast. We’re going to make sure that we have– it’s Sakara Life. Again, that’s how I say it. Is that how you say it?

Danielle: That’s right, yeah.

Meagan: Sakara Life. We are going to make sure we have that link in the show notes. Don’t forget about us here at The VBAC Link listeners. I’m just saying, don’t forget about us.

Danielle: No, you’re work is so important. Thank you.

Meagan: You’re immediately going to be hooked. There’s so much amazingness. I mean, everything on there. You guys just do such an incredible job. I’m so grateful for all that you are doing and all that you are helping, your line, and everything. We are going to have everything in the show notes so definitely go click around and go explore.

Danielle: Yeah, and just in case people don’t know, I have a company called Sakara. It was started over 12 years ago and it really started as a food company. We delivered the food that changed our lives. We started delivering it to people and then that turned into hundreds of people then thousands of people then millions of people.

Meagan: Millions and millions, yeah.

Danielle: Yeah, so now we offer fresh food delivery at your door. We offer it to every zip code in the United States. It’s all organic. It’s all plant-rich, really tasty, beautiful food. It’s what I eat every single day. Yeah. Then just on this mission to put people in the driver’s seat of their health to really help you understand what is the toolkit you need to really feel good, to really nourish, so our podcast is also part of that.

One of the nourishing conversations we can have is, do you feel lit up at the end?

Meagan: Mhmm. Oh, I love it so much. Thank you, seriously, from the bottom of my heart for coming on. I feel like my cheeks hurt from smiling just hearing you speak, feeling you speak. Oh, everything about you is magic. I know you are not the doula, but you have magic too. You are incredible.

Danielle: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you and thank you for all the work you do. I told you this at the beginning that I didn’t have your podcast when I was searching for how to have a vaginal birth after my C-section and I think these stories are so important so that we can remind women how powerful they are and that we do have the option and that the best intended medical caregivers who say, “We have increased of blah, blah, blah and rupture,” it’s like, “Do you really understand your risk? Do you really, really understand how much more of a risk you’re taking?”

I will tell you the missing part of the conversation is all you are gaining by choosing the birth that you want, so yes. Yes. It’s slightly, very slightly more risky post-C-section, but no matter how you give birth, choosing and feeling empowered is going to give you so much. That’s often the part of the conversation that is missing.

Meagan: I agree. Again, another mic drop here. I can’t even. You are just– I need you in my life every day, so that’s why I’m listening to your podcast because you are just so amazing. Again, thank you so much.

Danielle: You are so sweet. Thank you.

Meagan: We will talk to you later.

Closing

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Danielle Duboise, the co-founder of Sakara Life, has changed millions of lives through her advocacy for wellness and nourishment both of the body and the soul. Danielle is also an HBAC mama and shares with us the valuable lessons she has learned from both of her births about the mother-baby connection, surrendering, and the true meaning of an empowered birth.

Danielle and Meagan have just the sweetest conversation that we know will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. Danielle encourages birthing women especially to care for themselves on the deepest levels. Her words align so perfectly with all of the things that are important to us at The VBAC Link. Meagan had chills throughout the entire episode as Danielle spoke and we know you will too!

Sakara Life Website

Danielle’s Podcast

Eat Clean, Play Dirty

Spirit Babies Book

Needed Website

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

Full Transcript under Episode Details

03:51 Sharing your birth plans with others

9:13 Danielle’s first pregnancy with vasa previa

11:29 A humbling birth experience

14:09 Going into labor

17:06 Danielle’s C-section

23:31 Connecting with your baby

32:26 Surrendering

36:06 Choices in birth

39:14 The ripple effect of birth

42:34 Ways to release fear

53:02 Which risks are you willing to take?

56:07 Nutrition and nourishment

Meagan: Hello, Women of Strength. We have an amazing guest for you today. Her name is Danielle and she is the co-founder of Sakara Life. It is a wellness company providing the tools to achieve optimal health and vitality. If you haven’t caught on already listening to our Needed ads and other episodes, health is so important, and optimal health and getting the nutrients and the things that you need in your life is so important in how we handle life.

She is a true pioneer in the health industry and launched the brand in 2012 with her best friend, Whitney. Creating their unique nutrition philosophy which merges modern science with ancient healing wisdom. Since its conception, Sakara has transformed millions of lives through its signature program, functional products, and supplements.

Leading the global movement as an advocate for plants and medicine, Danielle became a nationally bestselling author with Sakara’s debut cookbook which is called Eat Clean, Play Dirty, and is the co-host of the wildly popular, which I also am obsessed with, Sakara Life podcast. A certified holistic health coach, nutritionist, and expert in plant-based living and the microbiome, Danielle is currently pursuing her Master of Science in human nutrition and functional medicine. You can continue to see both personal and professional features of Danielle in things like Vogue, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Couverture– I think is how I say it- and Goop.

She was born and raised in Arizona and Danielle is true to her Sedona roots while living in New York City with her husband, daughter, and son. She is joining us today to share with you her journey. She had a C-section and then went on to have an HBAC as well as giving us some more of her amazing wisdom.

03:51 Sharing your birth plans with others

Meagan: Hello, Women of Strength. We have an amazing guest today. Her name is Danielle. And did I say your last name? Is it Duboise?

Danielle: It’s Duboise. I think technically, Duboise is maybe proper, but we’ve always said Duboise.

Meagan: Duboise. That sounds– I always sat it Duboise in my head because I think I just read it and don’t– anyway. Welcome to the show.

Danielle: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Meagan: Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. So so excited.

Okay, we were talking a little bit before about HBAC, home birth after Cesarean, so she of course is going to share her Cesarean and her HBAC, but we were talking about how it’s something that happens obviously but a lot of people don’t talk about their plans to do it. They don’t want to share it with people, so we will get into that but I’m curious how you felt about it when you were doing it. When I was pregnant and I had my two C-sections, I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was planning on going out of the hospital because I didn’t want the negative.

Danielle: Yeah, I think there are layers. It’s probably multi-faceted. Certainly, when you are pregnant and about to give birth, you have to be very protective of your space. I think people can’t really control their fear. It incites fear in people who aren’t even having children at that moment. It’s crazy how much fear it brings up when you say you’re going to have a home birth.

When I was pregnant with my first, I was planning on a home birth and then I could get into the details of why I risked out of a home birth, etc., but before I risked out, I told a dear friend. It was a couple and they were pregnant with their second. I said, “Yeah. We are thinking about a home birth.” I don’t think I said home birth. I said midwife and then later it came out it was a home birth and his response was, “You know your baby could die, right?”

Meagan: Right?

Danielle: I was 8 months pregnant. I was so emotional. Normally, it wouldn’t have bothered me because I think he learned to put up barriers and that was the fear he was putting on me, but it was such an important reminder of how much you have to protect your space. I think every mother, mother-to-be, parent, and parent-to-be gets to define how they protect their space but I think one of the ways we do it is we don’t talk about how we are going to birth.

Meagan: Yeah. It sucks. We shouldn’t have to hide how we want to birth especially if we are making that decision confidently.

Danielle: Yeah. I think even after you give birth, it’s still something that I shout from the rooftops because now, I think it has a way, same with prolonged breastfeeding, of making other mothers feel less than when it’s just my story. It doesn’t mean it’s the best way to breastfeed. It doesn’t mean it’s the best way to birth. It’s what worked for me. But I think inherent in the complexities of our birthing system, of our culture, the demands on women, me talking about a home birth might make another woman feel like she couldn’t do it or didn’t do it, so I’m careful about how I talk about it in the world too balancing both I want to empower women who want to make that choice and also empower women who don’t want to choose a home birth.

Meagan: Right. That’s what we do here at The VBAC Link. We empower people who want to have a VBAC and women who were like, “This is what I want. I want this.” But then also, we empower those who are unsure and help them find what’s right for them by also not judging anyone for just scheduling a C-section.

Danielle: I think the most important thing and what I want for all birthing bodies is just an empowered birth. You get to define it, but inherent and empowered birth is you get to decide. You are in the driver’s seat. You are in control. You feel supported. You feel safe. You can define what are all of the things that make you feel that way, but the point is that you get to decide. It’s very easy to be a victim to the medical system and I’m careful to use that word, but I really think the way most of the medical system is set up is you can feel very bullied in it not even just in birth. If someone in a white coat comes up to you and says, “You have to do it this way, otherwise you are risking the life of your unborn child,” it’s a pretend choice they are giving you. “You could do this. You don’t have to, but your baby might die.” You’re not giving a woman a choice. You’re masquerading a choice. I think you can feel really bullied in those scenarios. That’s the antithesis of an empowered birth.

Meagan: I love that you pointed that out. I can connect to that just in my own birth and as a doula watching hundreds of people give birth, seeing that come in and happen.

Danielle: Yeah, I bet you see that all the time.

9:13 Danielle’s first pregnancy with vasa previa

Meagan: Okay, so you mentioned that your first birth was a planned home birth and there were some things that happened that shifted, and obviously, it was a C-section. Tell us more about that.

Danielle: Yeah, so I live in New York City where I would say home births are not maybe as popular as they are in other parts of the country. The insurance rates for midwives are pretty insane. Even just to decide I wanted a home birth in New York City was a feat and to find the right midwives. I had planned for it. I had a really great pregnancy, but then at around week 32, we went in for one of our scans and they found vasa previa.

Vasa previa is kind of like placenta previa but it’s where the veins, the fetal vein come out of the Wharton’s jelly and is in the way of the birth canal. If I were to have gone into labor when that happened, then the fetal vein could burst and they say it’s about seven seconds before the baby would bleed out.

So I went from, I had this beautiful home birth planned. I had the bathtub. I had this midwife I loved to, “You have vasa previa. If it doesn’t move–” it had to move a half a centimeter. “If it doesn’t move in the next two weeks by the time you hit 34 weeks, you have to sit in a hospital bed until you are full-term and then we’re going to induce you.”

It was one of those moments where you just kind of watch reality melt in front of you. It went from my home birth to the most medicalized birth you could imagine.

Meagan: Yeah.

Danielle: I wouldn’t say I’m a religious person, but I’m a deeply spiritual person and my husband and I were praying every single day. We were visualizing the vein moving. We were doing so many things. We had this little baby shoe that we would pray over and put all of our energy into just– it could make me cry. Just bring her here. Get her here.

11:29 A humbling birth experience

Danielle: That’s where you are very humbled. We can talk more about this later, but this idea that the most important thing is a healthy baby. I very much disagree with that. I think that’s one of the missing pieces in this conversation of empowered births, but in that prayer was, “I want a healthy baby and I want a birth that we both need.”

That became my prayer instead of the birth that I wanted.

Meagan: Yes, that we both need.

Danielle: That we both need. I was humbled. I was born C-section in the 80’s and my mom didn’t breastfeed. It was a different time then. She didn’t breastfeed by choice because the doctors were kind of like, “You have a choice. You could breastfeed or you don’t have to. You could just do formula,” and my mom chose formula because that was right for her. I had a lot of judgment. I had a lot of judgment that she didn’t even try a natural birth. I had a lot of judgment that she didn’t even try to breastfeed and I was very humbled. I was served a dose of humble pie.

My daughter and I ended up with the birth that we both needed to work through that karma of this judgment I had. What ended up happening was I had to move from my home birth midwife to a hospital. I found these midwives in New Jersey about an hour away from my house in New York City. They had a birthing clinic that was in a hospital so I could go there.

But you know, it’s an hour's drive. It’s New York City. You don’t own a car so you have to rent. It was a whole thing just to get there. Just the change was so monumental to go from what really felt like this beautiful, safe place to give birth with these people I had built a relationship with and then I was thrown into this other practice. I didn’t really vibe with the midwives there. It was so much more medicalized. I just started to feel really scared even before I was giving birth.

I will say that my HBAC offered so much peace and forgiveness for myself because I realized in my second birth what I didn’t have in my first and why I couldn’t go to the places I went in my home birth in my hospital birth because I didn’t feel safe there.

The vein moved and so I went back to a no-risk, regular pregnancy, but I had already moved to the hospital and it was going to be too much to go back. My husband was kind of freaked out at that moment too like, “What if the baby moved a half a centimeter again? Let’s just be in a hospital.” I understood that.

14:09 Going into labor

Danielle: I went into labor and I think the fear hit us. We just went to the hospital too early. All of the things they tell you not to do that I think most first moms and first parents just do because it all feels so new.

Meagan: Well, it does and it’s like, “Well, wait. These signs mean I’m having a baby and I’m having a baby at this place so I should go there.”

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. I knew the moment I went into labor. I wasn’t in active labor for a while. I could just feel waves, but they weren’t painful waves. I was just a little crampy, so I stayed at home for 24 hours there. My water didn’t break, but then it just started getting more and more intense.

They started getting closer together, but my water still hadn’t broken so we just decided to go to the hospital because it’s also an hour away. You don’t want to get caught in New York City traffic because it could have easily been three hours away.

So we go. I also had to change doulas because the doula in New York City understandably wasn’t going to travel. She had small kids. So it was just all newness. I didn’t necessarily vibe with my doula. I didn’t feel safe in her arms. She was kind of more like– and I always tell people that you have to find the doula that matches and is the yin to your yang. She just wasn’t that for me. She was kind of small and fairy-like and very airy, but I’m very airy. I wanted a lioness that was just going to catch me and hold my hand and be really grounding for me.

It just feels off the minute it started. It wasn’t. It was right. It was exactly what was supposed to happen. I went and when I got to the hospital, I was only 2 centimeters. I had already been in labor for about 24 hours. It wasn’t like I couldn’t sleep, but I didn’t sleep well. I was tired. They were like, “You can go home an hour away. You could get a hotel around here.” We decided to get a hotel and as I was leaving, my water broke and they were like, “Just stay.”

Danielle: So God bless them, they let me do a natural labor for about 36 hours in a hospital setting.

Meagan: That is impressive.

Danielle: I’m really grateful. I chose that hospital because it was run by midwives. They definitely delivered. They let me really try. I hit this moment where I just ran out of steam and my contractions slowed. In retrospect, if that had been a home birth, I think they would have just given me some honey and helped me try and take a nap.

Meagan: Got to bed.

Danielle: Yeah, but that wasn’t what happened. It was C-section time. I was so tired that I just said, “Okay.”

17:06 Danielle’s C-section

Danielle: We went off and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. The scariest part was how heavy the medication is and I had been laboring. I think with emergency C-sections, I had been in labor for almost 48 hours and I was so tired. The toll of a C-section is big on anyone, but then especially if you had been in labor for as long as I had been.

That was the hardest part and recovery is intense. Recovery, I think, was also emotionally heavy for me too just when you had planned– and they tell you don’t plan for your birth, but of course you do. And then when you have the exact opposite of what you thought, it’s hard not to judge yourself. It’s hard not to wonder what you could have done differently. It’s hard not to be sad and upset and mad and all of those feelings.

So it took me a long time to look through those feelings and kind of realize that my daughter and I had the exact birth we were supposed to have.

Meagan: That you needed. What did you feel like helped you get through those and walk through them? Was it time and processing and finding that, “Hey, I made these decisions and they weren’t maybe what I thought I’d make, but again, that’s what I needed to have this experience in the end,”? What helped you walk through that?

Danielle: One book I always recommend to people is Spirit Baby. Have you heard of it?

Meagan: No, I haven’t but I’m going to write it down. We’re going to put it in the show notes here.

Danielle: It’s a really powerful book about– it’s written by this medium and he talks about sometimes mediums talk to spirits in the past. Sometimes they talk to angels. He realized that the spirits he was seeing and talking to were spirits that were about to come into the world so he called them spirit babies.

The book is just this beautiful story after story of how he would talk to these spirits and then he would help couples talk to those spirits that they were about to bring in and he helped so many people who were having trouble getting pregnant, etc. It just reminded me so much of we think because we are here on Earth and I thought, “I’m pregnant. This is what I want to do. This is what I’m going to do.” I really forgot that I’m bringing a spirit into the world. I’m a vessel. I’m not the driver. We are driving together. It’s the same thing.

Then they are born and it’s the exact same thing. You are not my child. You are not mine. You are a soul that came to this Earth and you are on your own path. We’re just here to guide each other and help each other. That was a big part of what helped me. I remembered that she also needed a certain type of birth. It didn’t have to be a mistake that we got there together and just trusted that that was what we needed, but also that maybe it was a lesson I needed. I’m not the boss of her, you know?

So that helped. There’s also something called havening you can work with. I don’t know if doulas do it. I worked with a midwife, but it’s physical touch to help you work through birth trauma. It’s a lot of just rubbing the arms up and down, having someone just help you physically release the emotions around it.

Meagan: Is it similar to tapping?

Danielle: Kind of. It’s like this, like rubbing. It can be a lot of different things. It’s havening. It’s creating a safe space for birth trauma.

Meagan: Okay, I’m loving this.

Danielle: So talking about it was really helpful and one of the ways I found my midwife for my home birth VBAC, there was not a single midwife in New York City that would do it, but I started making this relationship with this woman upstate about two hours away. She was in her 70’s, this midwife, so she did the havening with me. She just was like, “Just tell me what happened, baby. Just tell me what happened. It’s all right. I hear you. Just tell me what happened.” Just that safe space to tell my story to someone who so deeply knew the birth space and could understand and knew exactly how I was feeling and the safe space I needed and that I didn’t have, it was really healing to talk to those havening ears of hers.

Yeah, and she was in her 70’s. She was my midwife for my HBAC and I was her second to last birth. She retired shortly after.

Meagan: Wow.

Danielle: Yeah. You hear the stories about midwifery and women with these powers and the history of how witches have been demonized and you start to see the connections because you start to see the magic. You’re a doula. You have magic. There’s no way I could have done what I did with the birth of my son at home without my doula and my midwife. I really think it’s the most beautiful form of sorcery and magic to create that safe space because I had to go to another world to bring my son here. You have to cross the veil. You have to go somewhere else, so in order to do that, you have to have people holding a safe space for you where your body is and making sure your body is okay, that your soul is okay.

Going through that experience was also very healing from my first birth because I was like, “Oh. This is what a safe space looks and feels like.” It’s not what I had in the hospital, so okay. That’s okay. I didn’t have that with my first birth. If I had, I think she would have been born vaginally and that’s okay too. It offered a lot of forgiveness.

23:31 Connecting with your baby

Meagan: I love that you said that it offered a lot of forgiveness. That is something that is very, very, very difficult to do. A lot of the time, we blame ourselves for things like we were talking about, but the forgiveness. I forgive this experience. I recognize I had this. I accept that I had this. It isn’t what I’m having now. I’m recognizing that, but I’m going to forgive that and I’m going to take that step forward and find that healing step in this right direction.

Danielle: Yeah, and also I will say two things. One, when my daughter was born and my daughter is the one I had the C-section with. I melted into her. We melted into each other. We were just so connected. It’s inexplicable. When my son was born– and with my daughter, I had the most medicalized birth. I was traumatized after the epidural. I had the worst shakes because I hadn’t eaten so it was just really traumatizing physically, but then my connection with her was immediate.

I had the most beautiful home birth with my son. Truly, he was born by a fireplace and my husband and daughter caught him. It was snowing the most beautiful, fluffy snow. It was literally perfect. I did not feel connected. It took a while to build a connection to my son.

Meagan: Picture perfect.

Danielle: I think also, we have these expectations of, “Oh, if I have this birth, then everything will be just perfect and I’ll feel so connected to my child and my child will latch right away.” None of that means that. So also, releasing those expectations of that. The birth that you want is for you and I think the more you can get clear on that the better, then when you invite the soul of your child to have the birth that they need, that’s when you start to really learn from each other.

I don’t know if the birth I had with my son was maybe what he wanted. I don’t know, because it didn’t feel like when he got here that he was ready to be here. He probably could have waited around for a little while. I almost feel like he participated in the birth that I really needed and that my soul really needed. Then he kind of made me pay for it. He didn’t sleep for two years.

I mean, he’s the best. I have such a special connection with him now, but it took a while so it doesn’t mean that just because you have the birth of your dreams that that’s going to mean you have the connection of your dreams. There is so much within our power, but there is just also so much outside of it.

Meagan: Yeah. Whoa. I just got the chills listening to you. It’s so amazing to look at it that way because I think too a lot of moms that have had C-sections that maybe didn’t have the connection, they are looking for it from a different experience or the same thing where you were like, “I had that immediate connection. I didn’t have the experience that I was desiring or planning on, but I had that immediate connection.” It just differs from everybody. Like you said, what we need, what our babies need, what that journey is looking like, whatever that looks like for us, is usually what is going to unfold. Sometimes it’s not exactly what our minds would write down on a piece of paper or draw.

Danielle: Exactly. That’s part of that forgiveness too. It’s just– and this is just I think getting older now is what it’s allowed me to think in this way because the younger me definitely wouldn’t have. It’s just to let things unfold as they are meant to be and trust that they are unfolding in exactly the way they are supposed to. Thank goodness, I had that after my son was born. I think that birth offered me a lot of space for him to be the little soul he needed to be. He wasn’t the kid that was going to melt into me right away. So just letting him be him was medicine for me. It really was to allow him the space instead of me saying, “Oh, I have to have this kind of connection with my son immediately when they are born.”

We are taught that. We are taught that equals how good your birth is or how good of a mother you are. That’s not to say– he was a great latcher, but he was energetic. I could tell my son needed some space. He was like, “Let me figure out who I am. Let me figure out who I am.” Yeah. And just offering that I think to our children and to ourselves is such a gift.

Meagan: When you were talking about birth plans and planning, if we have this thing in our mind where we absolutely have this plan and we think that we absolutely have to connect with that child or that child has to connect with us, but then we start doubting, “Well, why does that child not like me?” Like you said, “Am I not a good mom? What did I do to fail? Maybe my birth didn’t go as planned and that’s why we are not connecting because I failed my baby.”

This is literally where our minds go so often and it doesn’t need to go there. I think in a lot of ways, it’s because the world tells us that that’s what we have to have or that’s what the movies are showing us or Instagram or Facebook is showing us.

Danielle: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. None of those things can show your energetic connection.

Meagan: No.

Danielle: I think having a mantra– and this is a life mantra, but I mean as we all know and I imagine everyone listening is either a mother or going to be soon, but the mantra of– and I say this to my kids all of the time. We are right where we are supposed to be and I’m right here. Even in the middle of a meltdown. “Baby, we are right where we are supposed to be. It’s all right. I’m here. I love you.”

The more we can remind ourselves that too, in a birth we weren’t ready for or didn’t think we would have, just remind ourselves that we are right where we need to be. We are safe. This is all part of the cosmic lesson that each of us individually needs and trusting and surrendering. I mean, that is why women and bodies with wombs give birth because we are the feminine– forget gender– the feminine are the ones who know how to surrender. The masculine are the ones that go out and achieve and make things. They use their will. The feminine is the vessel. The feminine call things to it, so the more that you can deeply surrender to that, I think the more we can really embody whatever is happening in that moment instead of feeling like it is happening to us.

32:26 Surrendering

Danielle: It’s just so true in birth too. Talk about the ultimate surrender.

Meagan: Oh my gosh, yes. It can be so difficult to put ourselves in that next space of surrendering and accepting. I think a lot of people will say, “No, don’t surrender. You have to fight.” I don’t believe that if we are surrendering, we are giving up.

Danielle: No, I think it’s the opposite.

Meagan: Yeah. But I think sometimes that’s how it’s looked. Surrender is like, “Here. Do whatever,” or just, “I’ll surrender and I’ll give this experience,” but I don’t think it’s that way.

Danielle: No, surrender is when you become what you are calling in. If you are calling in an empowered birth, you become that empowered being that has an empowered birth so that you can have it. You surrender to being that empowered person. You don’t surrender to, “Okay, whatever you say.” That is being a victim of circumstance which, by the way, we will also all do that too. I did that many times.

Meagan: Sometimes it’s natural. It just happens.

Danielle: That’s okay too. I was really grateful in that case to have– there was a part of me when my midwife said, “Okay, it’s C-section time,” I was like, “You know what? Okay.” I think I probably could have fought, but I was just like, “You know what? Okay.”

So it’s not to say that– I think victim can be a bad word. I don’t think it’s a bad word. I think sometimes, you just need to fall into someone’s very capable hands and be okay with that, but that is very different to surrender. Surrender is embodying what you want, calling it to you, and surrendering to your embodiment of it.

Meagan: Absolutely. I think that is such a powerful message to this community specifically especially because of what a lot of the times we as VBAC moms are going through and where we are mentally through our prep and through our past traumas and through our doubt. A lot of the time we doubt because the world is telling us to doubt.

Danielle: To all of the mamas and mamas-to-be out there, just giving birth to a human is the most miraculous, greatest thing in the universe but then to also be up against what we are up against in society and the medical community– and I’m not saying anything bad. I have very dear friends who are OB/GYNs and I love them. They have the best intentions, but that doesn’t mean their actions are the best.

As you know, I have a podcast and I had an incredible OB/GYN come onto the podcast and talk about how we have lost reverence for the birthing body, that it’s so medicalized that we are constantly– just by being in a hospital, just by being medicalized, the birthing body is treated like this weird vessel that is just kind of in the way of the baby getting here so you just have to keep the vessel alive. That’s it. You just have to keep the vessel alive and then get the baby out. That’s really why I hate this idea of all that matters is a healthy baby. That’s absolutely not all that matters.

36:06 Choices in birth

Danielle: That’s one of the things that you have to confront when you choose a home birth. You have to confront that. You have to confront that perhaps your choices will lead to outcomes that you don’t want, but you have to choose. I believe that how you choose to birth impacts not just you but your child and not just your child in the moment of birth, but your child for the rest of your life, their imprint.

Choose is a really important word there. It’s not like everyone has to choose a home birth otherwise your kid will be messed up. It’s how you choose to birth, how you choose to show up to that situation, how you choose to embody, and how you choose to feel empowered. Those are the makings of magic. I think when we say, “All that matters is a healthy child,” we are treating a woman’s body like it doesn’t matter. We are treating a woman’s experience like it doesn’t matter. It is a trauma that lives through generations. Even my grandmother was born via forceps. Her mother was put out using chloroform.

Meagan: Yes.

Danielle: We’re not that far from it even today. Especially in America, we have so lost our way on how powerful women are and how powerful birthing bodies are. There have been studies that show the more women that are in the room with a birthing woman, the more positive outcomes there are. There is a magic to women gathering and lifting each other up so that’s my hope for women. It’s not that we have all home births or all one way of birthing. It’s that we feel empowered and we let birth feel like the magical experience it can be even if you choose an epidural. It doesn’t matter. The details almost don’t matter. It’s how you feel throughout it.

I have a dear friend who had a very empowered C-section. She was like, “I chose it. I wanted it. I felt great.” She felt in control of her birth. That is an empowered birth.

Meagan: Yes.

Danielle: I think we can use the best of what the medical system gives us to help you have the birth you want, but the important thing is that you get to choose what you want for your body because your experience as the birthing body really matters.

Meagan: Wow. Seriously, I feel like you could be on this podcast for hours and hours and hours. I just keep getting the chills over and over again.

Danielle: The world’s longest podcast.

Meagan: It’s like my feet are on a cooler or something because I can feel chills from my feet all the way up to my head. It’s such a powerful message here.

Danielle: This topic is so dear to my heart because I really felt like I was healing generational trauma. I could feel it. I could feel the trauma. My mom didn’t even know what an empowered birth was, God bless her. She didn’t even know it was an option. I want different stories for my daughter.

39:14 The ripple effect of birth

Danielle: I don’t know how out there you want to go, but I believe it’s connected to our sexuality. I believe it’s connected to the light within each of us, how we birth, how we choose to birth, the space we hold for birth. We tend to treat birth the moment the baby comes out and it is just so much bigger and broader than that in my opinion. It has such a ripple effect.

Yeah, so it’s important to me that women know what their options are. A lot of women don’t even know. When I got pregnant with my first, I was like, “What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?” I didn’t even know the basics.

Meagan: Yeah, I mean, people still. It’s 2024 and people will be like, “Oh, what do you do?” I’m like, “Oh, I’m a doula.” They’re like, “Wow. How long did school take for that? How is catching babies?” I’m like, “No, no, no, no. I don’t catch babies.” Even still today, doulas and midwives are completely confused. We don’t even know now.

We do have providers saying things and it just keeps carrying. I had one provider ask me after a client of mine had an unexpected, undesired Cesarean after she was holding baby. We got baby nursing which she was so happy about. She was getting some of the things she wanted and he said, “Is she over it yet? I mean, look. Everyone’s healthy right there.” So to your healthy comment, there’s so much more to all of this and like you said, it’s a ripple effect.

Where it starts, if we go all the way back to where the baby actually starts and how amazing and beautiful it is, and then all the way up to birth, but then even further and greater. There are so many things in our outside world today that can try to stomp these down and not help us find that empowerment or belief or faith in our bodies. It’s hard to sometimes find that.

Danielle: Yeah. I think most women I know are also the best copers I’ve ever met. That’s a problem because I can promise you guys one thing and that’s that your emotions don’t just go away when you cope. They live inside of you and until you work through them and breathe through them and put them out and get them out and move them out and cry them out and talk them out and whatever you need to do to get them out, but if you had a traumatic birth and then you had a practitioner say something like that to you and then you told yourself, “Oh, yeah. No, it was fine because my babies are fine.” It’s not fine. It’s not fine.

It’s okay to let it not be fine and there are lots of people, doulas included, who can hold that space for you and let it not be fine. You know, I had to do that before I could even think about having a second and having a home birth because we all know if you don’t work through your fears, they show up in birth.

42:34 Ways to release fear

Meagan: Oh, yes they do.

Danielle: I had lots of fears going into my birth so it’s not like they all go away, but I had at least faced them. There were no dark corners. There was no, “Okay, I’m just going to pretend like this never happened and just go into birth,” because those are the things that show up.

I think for my first birth one of the things that showed up was, “Okay, anything but a C-section. Whatever it is, episiotomy fine. Just not a C-section,” and then that’s exactly what happened and that’s exactly what showed up. You do have to– and that’s part of back to our conversation about surrender. Surrendering is so hard because it means you had to face all of your fears. You can’t surrender into the places that you won’t go. Surrendering means you’ve made all of the space. You’ve faced your fears.

My midwife with my home birth said– because I got to 10 centimeters with my daughter. I was at 10 centimeters for a long time and then it was too painful. I just couldn’t release into the surrender. So because I had worked with her on a lot of my birth trauma, she knew very well about my first birth. She was like, “We’re going to get to this moment and you’re going to have to choose. You’re going to get to 10 centimeters with me and you’re going to have to choose. I’m going to hold your hand and I’m going to need you to choose yes. We’re going to bring this baby boy into this world right here. I need you to choose yes.”

That space– we had been through my deepest fears and my deepest fears were that I was going to lose him or I wasn’t going to be able to do it and I was going to have to go to the hospital. We had talked through my deepest fears so I could just surrender into them instead of hide from them. I think that’s why birth asks us to be just so, so brave because you can’t fake your way through your fears.

Meagan: You can’t.

Danielle: And insecurities and all the things when it comes to birth. It really does strip you down.

Meagan: Yes. Have you ever heard of a mother’s blessing? Have you ever heard of that?

Danielle: Tell me what it is.

Meagan: Okay, so one of my doulas wanted to throw me this mother’s blessing. It was essentially a party for me, but it was very– I don’t even know how to explain it.

Danielle: We call it a circle, like a mother’s circle.

Meagan: It was very connecting.

Danielle: That’s what I call it, yeah.

Meagan: Yes. So they called it a mother’s blessing, so a mother’s circle. We did. We got in the circle and we talked about these fears. These are the women within my birth that were welcoming in my birth or women who I was welcoming into my circle of trust along the way because I didn’t feel like I could tell everyone I wanted to have a vaginal birth after two C-sections out of the hospital.

Danielle: Wow.

Meagan: We had this moment of connection where they asked me, “What are your fears? Let these out. Let these flow through you and not get bogged up.” Then we all connected and created this crazy bracelet. It was really, really amazing. Each one gave me more power in the bracelet and we would wrap it around. We were all connected then cut it and we all wore it together. It was the weirdest thing, but every time I looked down at this bracelet– we talked about it earliest, but the connection, the power, and the magic. I felt this magic of people who weren’t even with me in that very, very moment, but they were so with me. It really helped me face some of those fears and remember that I’ve faced those.

Danielle: Yeah.

Meagan: They’re still coming in my mind for a minute.

Danielle: And you’re not alone. This is the sorcery I’m talking about. This is why most of the “witches” that were burned at the stake were actually women in the birth space because it is magic. You have to have a cauldron and spells and blessings and magic to bring souls into this world. Yeah. I had a baby blessing. It was a baby/mama blessing that was just so beautiful. I wish it were more institutionalized versus a baby shower because you don’t need a baby shower. You need a mama shower.

Meagan: Right? I know I felt so uplifted.

Danielle: You are the one that’s bringing this baby. Yeah. Yeah. We did a birthing necklace so if anyone listening is wondering, you can Google mama blessings or mama circles. There are some really beautiful things that you can do. You have someone start a string for a necklace and you ask everyone to bring a bead.

Meagan: Yep, I had that too.

Danielle: You around and everyone puts a blessing and why they chose that bead for you and what they are wishing for you in your birth or in your motherhood and at the end, you have this beautiful necklace. I wore both of my necklaces during both of my births.

There’s another thing where all of the mamas who are in your circle are given a flower and they give you one piece of wisdom and then hand you the flower. There are so many beautiful things you can do.

Meagan: There’s the candle. Have you heard about the candles?

Danielle: No, what did you do with the candles?

Meagan: So the flower was the bracelet part and then I also had the beads. I actually have a picture of me in labor holding onto that and I just felt the power within my palm. We did this candle. Everyone has a candle and everyone gives really positive, encouraging words, or a mantra or something, then when you go into labor, you let your team and you let your circle know and everyone lights this candle.

Danielle: Yes, they did this too. Yeah. The labor candle. Yeah, it’s just so beautiful and it matters. It really matters so when you say, “All that matters is a healthy baby,” it’s like, “No. How you get to the healthy baby also really, really matters.”

Meagan: Yeah, I want to say, “No, duh. Of course, a mom that is alive and a baby that is alive and healthy matters. No brainer.” But why are we saying all that matters? Why is it all that? Why that?

Danielle: There is a lot inherent in birth that is death. I think that really, really scares Americans and we don’t confront it. We don’t talk about it. We hide it. We hide away our elderly. They are not the wise people of our society that they actually are. We hide from death. If you hide from death, you hide from birth. I don’t think you get to choose, so there is a reason that birth is treated the way it is and it’s because there is a lot of fear around what it means to die in this country.

Meagan: Yeah.

Danielle: I think the part that just makes me the most sad in that conversation is that women are not taught how powerful and capable they are and their bodies are and how much wisdom our bodies have.

Danielle: I was just talking to a woman the other day and she was like, “Oh yeah.” She is pregnant and she said, “My OB is worried because I have smaller hips.” I’m like, “When you go to the studies, literally, that is just bad medicine. That is like malpractice to make a woman feel like her body made a baby it cannot birth.”

So inherently, now she has this seat of fear that her body can’t do it, that her body is not capable, and it’s terrible. I’m so grateful for the role of conventional medicine. I’m so grateful there is a 9-1-1 number you can call if you home birth is going the wrong way. We don’t have to choose. Medicalized birth can be for emergency situations and thank God. Thank God for it.

Meagan: Yes. Yes.

Danielle: But until you get to that emergency, your body is so capable. Your body can absolutely birth your baby and the more you surround yourself with people that believe that too, I mean, trying to do that, trying to birth a human naturally and just to keep your soul, mind, and body in the face of someone who thinks you can’t do it, might be impossible. It might be impossible.

Meagan: That’s what I was going to say. Not only does this woman have this seed of doubt in her mind, but her provider is doubting her before she even begins. It reminds me of that OB you said you had on the podcast on Sakara Life. We are losing this. We are placing doubt before we even get there and I’m going to tell you right now. That provider is probably not going to wait, probably not going to trust the body, probably not going to trust the process, and things are going to be pushed whether she has a C-section or not. I’m not saying that, but if someone doubts someone’s ability before labor even happens that they can’t get the baby out of the pelvis, that is a red flag that is an issue.

Think about how many patients that provider probably has that is placing doubt.

Danielle: I think connected to everything we are saying, our fear of death, our fear of– we have convinced ourselves that a medicalized birth is a risk-free birth or at least a lower-risk birth.

Meagan: Safer.

53:02 Which risks are you willing to take?

Danielle: We just know from the literature that’s not true. In fact, it’s the opposite, but even if it were true, I have a firm belief that for every action, there is a reaction. For every– and what I mean by that is in order to bring a human into this world, it’s going to be hard.

People are like, “I’m just going to do a C-section.” There is no world where a C-section is easy. There is no risk-free easy way out. We can tell ourselves that there are, but there is not. So back to this idea of the empowered birth are which risks are you willing to take? Which risks are you comfortable with? Which risks are you okay with for your body? Those are the questions we have to be asking. Not, “Oh, I’m choosing a home birth because I’m just a little bit more risk tolerant.” That’s not what it is at all.

Meagan: Exactly, yeah.

Danielle: Or, “I’m choosing a C-section because I just want it to be easy.” That’s not what it is at all. I’ve had a C-section. It’s not easy at all. I think we fool ourselves in the conversation by making things seem safer, seem easier, and they’re not.

Meagan: Well, I feel like these things we are telling us is a way to justify our actions. A provider who is going to tell someone that they have CPD and their op-reports, it may be a way to justify the action of a performed Cesarean on their part. We say these things to soften what we are doing.

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I know. I’m sure you’ve had conversations around The Business of Being Born, but that’s very real.

Meagan: It’s very real.

Danielle: That’s why, in my opinion, conventional medicine is perfect for acute, emergency situations because it is a business, and thank God they are there for those emergencies, but if you are not in an emergency moment which, by the way, birth is not an emergency, then I don’t think– and this is true even outside of birth. I have my Masters in functional medicine and human nutrition. It’s the same with nutrition. There’s no role for pharmacology and conventional medicine when it comes to everyday health and wellness.

Thank God that it’s there if someone has a heart attack or God forbid gets hit by a bus or something like that. Thank God for conventional medicine, but they do not have the tools to help with chronic, everyday metabolic issues. What they are trained to do is give pharmaceutical drugs that mask symptoms or change physiology to mask symptoms, but it’s not this “well care” that we need both in birth and outside of birth.

56:07 Nutrition and nourishment

Meagan: And nutrition is such a passion of mine and something that I would love to also have an episode in the future because there is so much to do with exactly what you were saying. It’s not just birth. There is so much more and that’s a big one. That’s a really, really big one.

Danielle: I like to talk about it in terms of nourishment because I think that nutrition is scientific and there is nothing scientific–

Meagan: Nourishment.

Danielle: Yeah, and to think of it that way because I think so many times women are taught from the lens of nutrition that this is what you should eat for your pregnancy and not eat and this is what you should eat postpartum and not eat. Do you feel nourished? Do you feel good? Do you feel whole? Nourishment is inclusive of your emotional connections with your partner, your emotional connections with your community, your connection to why are you on this planet, your spirituality, and your religion.

Nourishment is multifaceted where nutrition tends to just be, “Did you get enough protein?”

Meagan: Proteins and carbs and fats. Did you hit your macros today?

Danielle: Yeah. It’s such a boring conversation that we haven’t been having for most of humanity. This is our small, small, small understanding of what the body needs and it’s one lens into what the body needs. A lot of my work is trying to help people understand that through the eyes of nourishment, we can actually transform our health because they are thinking about both how we feel from not just a physical standpoint, but from an emotional and spiritual one as well.

Meagan: Absolutely. I love how you were like, “It’s just a small lens.” There is so much. There is so much.

Danielle: I will tell you the deeper I get into literature, the deeper I get into scientific studies, and the deeper we go into the mechanics of the cell, we go one step farther and we are in quantum and then we have no idea what’s going on, so it’s just this constant reminder of how it’s so cool that we can do heart transplants. That is so awesome and the geek in me and the scientist in me is so intrigued.

I so love understanding the biochemistry of nutrition, what’s really going on, and what our mitochondria need to function. I love that and it’s so, so cool that our kids are starting to understand that and can make real changes in people’s lives by understanding that, but also, we can’t— I personally can’t practice there without having reverence for how much we don’t know and making sure that even though I can say, “Hey, after your labs and this questionnaire, I think you might be deficient in a couple of these things, so let’s put you on these things,” if I don’t then also have the conversation of, “How is your relationship with your mom because you’ve talked about some trauma?”

Those conversations are so separate from conventional medicine. I hope the new wave of medicine is the whole person and there is a whole assessment.

Meagan: Well, yeah. I know time is up, but I was having a conversation about this whole thing. Okay, maybe we are deficient in these areas, but how is our life? How is our sleep? How is our connection? How is our cortisol? What are we doing in addition over here? That’s just not talked about a ton.

Danielle: Yeah. I will say this as the nutritionist. I think soul health is way more important than any other health. The more you take care of whatever your soul needs whether it is deep breaths or a vacation or a mantra or a really good book by a fireside or some hot chocolate or a glass of wine or a bowl of french fries after a late night of dancing, answering those questions about what your soul needs, I think, are the most important and then once we can do that, we start to uncover, “Oh, you know what? I want to eat really well because I have this connection to myself.” The way we take care of ourselves is a reflection of our connection to ourselves so I think soul health as our first priority usually ends up being the thing that has the greatest impact because of the ripple effects.

Meagan: Yeah, it helps us find the connectivity again because sometimes we are slightly disconnected then we find our soul and we find what we need, and then we flourish through there.

Danielle: Yeah, it’s like if you don’t have that, then it’s just another to-do list. “Oh, I need to check off meditating. Oh, I need to check off getting my greens today.” That’s exhausting.

Meagan: It is exhausting. I’ve done it.

Danielle: Yeah.

Meagan: I’m guilty right here.

Danielle: We all have. We all have, then you just end up chronically stressed and you have adrenal fatigue and it’s beside the point so it’s trying to anchor people on those soul questions first.

Meagan: Absolutely. Well, I encourage everybody listening to tune into your podcast. We’re going to make sure that we have– it’s Sakara Life. Again, that’s how I say it. Is that how you say it?

Danielle: That’s right, yeah.

Meagan: Sakara Life. We are going to make sure we have that link in the show notes. Don’t forget about us here at The VBAC Link listeners. I’m just saying, don’t forget about us.

Danielle: No, you’re work is so important. Thank you.

Meagan: You’re immediately going to be hooked. There’s so much amazingness. I mean, everything on there. You guys just do such an incredible job. I’m so grateful for all that you are doing and all that you are helping, your line, and everything. We are going to have everything in the show notes so definitely go click around and go explore.

Danielle: Yeah, and just in case people don’t know, I have a company called Sakara. It was started over 12 years ago and it really started as a food company. We delivered the food that changed our lives. We started delivering it to people and then that turned into hundreds of people then thousands of people then millions of people.

Meagan: Millions and millions, yeah.

Danielle: Yeah, so now we offer fresh food delivery at your door. We offer it to every zip code in the United States. It’s all organic. It’s all plant-rich, really tasty, beautiful food. It’s what I eat every single day. Yeah. Then just on this mission to put people in the driver’s seat of their health to really help you understand what is the toolkit you need to really feel good, to really nourish, so our podcast is also part of that.

One of the nourishing conversations we can have is, do you feel lit up at the end?

Meagan: Mhmm. Oh, I love it so much. Thank you, seriously, from the bottom of my heart for coming on. I feel like my cheeks hurt from smiling just hearing you speak, feeling you speak. Oh, everything about you is magic. I know you are not the doula, but you have magic too. You are incredible.

Danielle: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you and thank you for all the work you do. I told you this at the beginning that I didn’t have your podcast when I was searching for how to have a vaginal birth after my C-section and I think these stories are so important so that we can remind women how powerful they are and that we do have the option and that the best intended medical caregivers who say, “We have increased of blah, blah, blah and rupture,” it’s like, “Do you really understand your risk? Do you really, really understand how much more of a risk you’re taking?”

I will tell you the missing part of the conversation is all you are gaining by choosing the birth that you want, so yes. Yes. It’s slightly, very slightly more risky post-C-section, but no matter how you give birth, choosing and feeling empowered is going to give you so much. That’s often the part of the conversation that is missing.

Meagan: I agree. Again, another mic drop here. I can’t even. You are just– I need you in my life every day, so that’s why I’m listening to your podcast because you are just so amazing. Again, thank you so much.

Danielle: You are so sweet. Thank you.

Meagan: We will talk to you later.

Closing

Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.


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