What can you do NOW to help you create your confident birth. Today we talk with a graduate of The Online Prenatal Class for Couples about her birth experience and what helped her feel confident.
Today’s guest is Alejandra Aldridge — graduate of The Online Prenatal Class for Couples.
Here’s a bit more about her: Alejandra is a PhD candidate in political science at Stanford University. She grew up in a small town in the Hartford, CT region as the third of five girls, and spent her time reading books, excelling on her school’s tennis team, and making messes in the kitchen for her mom to clean up. After graduating from high school she made her way to Brigham Young University in Utah where she earned a BA in Political Science, and then made her way to the Bay Area for grad school at Stanford, where she met her husband in her local church congregation. They had their first baby recently, and benefited greatly from taking the Pulling Curls prenatal class. In addition to her undying love of tennis (and Roger Federer), she also enjoys Sprinkles cupcakes, CrossFit, gossip from The Bachelor, and dark chocolate.
Big thanks to our sponsor The Online Prenatal Class for Couples— if you’re looking to have a confident, collaborative birth, it’s the class for you!
In this episode
3 things Alejandra did to have her confident birth, plus some things she learned about herself along the way.
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other pregnancy podcasts:
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[00:00:00.090] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast! Today on Episode 96, we are talking to a graduate. That’s right. I’ve decided to have a few people come on who have taken my class and have some idea of what really helped them have a competent birth. I’m not a huge fan of birth stories, but this is as close as you’re going to get on the Pulling Curls Podcast. So let’s untangle our confident birth.
[00:00:30.460] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast, I’m Hilary, your curly headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family. And I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled, just like my hair.
[00:00:55.490] – Hilary Erickson
OK, guys, before we get started, leave a review, you’re not going to want to keep this podcast to yourself, it’s something you really want to share and the best way to share it is by leaving a review. Oh, and sharing it on social media. OK, do both. Sure, whatever.
[00:01:07.670] – Hilary Erickson
OK, today’s guest is actually getting her Ph.D. in political science at Stanford. She had her little girl, Eloise, about eight weeks ago. She is a graduate of the online prenatal class for couples. I want to welcome today’s guest, Alejandra Aldridge.
[00:01:25.020] – Hilary Erickson
Do you feel prepared for your delivery? In just three short hours, you can be prepared for the competent collaborative delivery you want, you’ll know what to expect and how to talk with your health care team. And there are no boring lessons in this class. I’ll use humor, stories from my 20 years in the delivery room to engage both of you. I love how Alyssa told me that she found herself laughing at things that used to sound scary. Most of all, you guys are going to be on the same page from Bump to Bassinette.
[00:01:49.860] – Hilary Erickson
Join the online prenatal class for couples today. You can save 15 percent with coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find a link in the show notes.
[00:02:00.340] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, Alejandra! Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:02:02.880] – Alejandra Aldridge
Hi. So great to be here.
[00:02:04.320] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. OK, so you took the prenatal class and you had your baby… How long ago?
[00:02:08.970] – Alejandra Aldridge
Almost eight weeks ago.
[00:02:10.020] – Alejandra Aldridge
February. Yeah, about eight weeks ago.
[00:02:12.210] – Hilary Erickson
Nice. Eight weeks is… Are you getting used to each other?
[00:02:15.600] – Alejandra Aldridge
[00:02:16.530] – Alejandra Aldridge
Like the four week- by about four weeks I knew her like physically like OK, I know how to like change diapers and I can recognize her cues a little better. But in the last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve been able to, it’s like more so clicked that I’m her mom now and like getting adjusting myself mentally and emotionally to like motherhood. And so now at this point obviously all the kinks aren’t worked out, but it definitely feels like, OK, we know what we’re doing and this is we’re kind of getting in a groove.
[00:02:41.400] – Hilary Erickson
Well, my oldest is twenty one or he’s going to be twenty one and the kinks still aren’t worked out.
[00:02:48.720] – Hilary Erickson
So but I love that. I think that’s good advice for all moms because at the beginning you’re like this is we are never going to match.
[00:02:54.990] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yeah, well. And like some people talk about how like oh the baby came out and I just felt that immediate connection of like I knew you this whole time and I was super happy when she came out. But I didn’t feel that like I have known you my whole life type feeling like I really didn’t. And our baby actually, I had to spend a couple of days in the hospital extra. And so it wasn’t… She was five days old when she came home.
[00:03:16.710] – Alejandra Aldridge
So even in the hospital, we took a couple of days to name her because she wasn’t hanging out in our room all the time. And so our families were like, what’s her name? What’s her name? And we were like, we’re not even it’s like I feel like it’s a little easier when you’re like you get to stare at her and just be like, is her name this or this? And she was off in another room and we only saw her for parts of the day.
[00:03:34.800] – Alejandra Aldridge
And so it took a little more time than I thought. But like, yeah, now I feel like I know her and who she is and stuff like that.
[00:03:41.040] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I love that. And I think that’s really true when they’re in the nikil, although I am the worst namer ever. So who knows. We, we backed out of a name. I mean I hadn’t fully written it on the birth certificate so but we changed the name I will name, I will not share which child that was.
[00:03:57.510] – Alejandra Aldridge
My parents got.
[00:03:58.470] – Alejandra Aldridge
So I’m a third of five girls. They got two of the five names wrong on the birth certificate. And so that was like the big thing for us. I was like, we are getting this right and I’m one of those five. So I’ve had to do to legal name changes my life once for my initial name and then second time when I got married. So I’ve done the whole like Social Security, driver’s license, all that stuff twice. So I’m like, we’re only doing this once for this kid.
[00:04:22.170] – Alejandra Aldridge
If she wants to change herself, she can. But I’m not taking responsibility for this.
[00:04:26.340] – Hilary Erickson
And they made that mistake more than once. I get one time. But you think next time you’re real more cautious.
[00:04:33.990] – Alejandra Aldridge
On the first one, my dad forgot the last letter of my sister’s name and then on me, they named me Alexandra, but they always called me Alejandra at home. My dad’s from Argentina and so they wanted to give me Spanish name, but they yeah, they wrote Alexandra, but they always called me Alejandra so they didn’t get it wrong per say. But I went by Alejandra my whole life and so by like sixteen I was like, let’s just change this. So it’s real because it said Alexandra, even on a cell phone or even on some medical records and like school records, even though it wasn’t my legal name.
[00:05:05.010] – Alejandra Aldridge
And then we go to change it and we actually learn my middle name wasn’t on my birth certificate either, but it’s my middle name now. So it’s kind of a mess. We we fixed that with her.
[00:05:15.030] – Hilary Erickson
I will say that the birth certificate is a lot of pressure that you’re not really prepared for. Maybe I should add a section of my class about looking at your birth certificate. Get it together, people. I have a friend who wanted to change her girl’s name and decided it was too expensive.
[00:05:29.910] – Hilary Erickson
And so they just call her something different.
[00:05:32.340] – Hilary Erickson
And I’m like…
[00:05:33.870] – Alejandra Aldridge
[00:05:34.940] – Hilary Erickson
It’s just- it’s not even close. It’s nowhere near the other name. And I was like, OK, sure. I guess she’s like, she can just deal with it when she’s an adult. That’s fine. So. All right. What do you think you did to prepare for your comfort of birth? What were three things you think that helped you feel confident in the labor room?
[00:05:52.110] – Alejandra Aldridge
OK, so number one was knowing logistically what would happen.
[00:05:55.710] – Alejandra Aldridge
And I think this came from a couple different areas. So one was the pulling- the prenatal class was super helpful and just talking about like, OK, so you’re going to arrive and you’re going to this is generally the procedures that are going to happen and they’re going to ask you these questions or things like that. Just kind of logistically, I’m probably you’d say type A, I like knowing what’s going to happen and having a plan. And so sort of knowing what would happen was helpful.
[00:06:19.380] – Alejandra Aldridge
Obviously, in the time of covid hospital tours aren’t a thing right now. Our hospital offered a virtual tour. We never actually got to take the virtual tour because I got emergency induced before the virtual tour happened. But the good thing was that we actually had to make a visit to labor and delivery when I was about thirty five weeks because I started showing signs of preeclampsia. So we had a Saturday night at midnight labor and delivery visit. So even though it wasn’t normal and we didn’t get to the hospital tour, it was actually super helpful because both me and my husband got to see where labor and delivery was ahead of time.
[00:06:50.030] – Alejandra Aldridge
Fast forward two weeks and I got emergency admitted to the hospital for an emergency induction. And if it wasn’t for my husband and I logistically knowing where L&D was, so like I went to the hospital, I went for an amnesty, and then I got admitted my husband was still at home. He was working. So he didn’t come for a couple hours later because he had to finish things off at home. But I wasn’t stressed out about having to explain to him, go up this floor, turn around here.
[00:07:15.320] – Alejandra Aldridge
Here’s how you get your covid pass or all this other stuff, because we had happened to go to labor and delivery before. Obviously, that’s not everyone’s situation. But simply knowing logistically what would happen typically happens through like a hospital tour. Virtual or in person was super, super helpful and knowing combined with the class of just like, OK, here’s physically where you park and here’s how you get in. And then adding with just like, OK, the nurses are going to this is kind of the procedure that’s going to happen when you first get in.
[00:07:41.420] – Alejandra Aldridge
It was super helpful because I like having a plan. And so it was helpful to not be so worried about, like, what’s going to happen next.
[00:07:47.870] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I really like that too, which is probably why I go through it step by step in my class. That’s… I appreciate that kind of thing. I even like- before I go to Home Depot, I want to know which bin and which aisle my lumber is on.
[00:07:59.690] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yes, same. I look it up online and I want to know like aisle five, bin 12 or whatever it is.
[00:08:05.450] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, because I want to get in and get out. Totally true. On tours, a lot of hospitals are operating in virtual.
[00:08:11.030] – Hilary Erickson
It’s funny that they didn’t have like a a pre recorded virtual tour that you could just watch whenever. So that’s funny.
[00:08:17.600] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yeah. The way they do it here is they have like a live one with the like you sign up for zoom class with the purpose that you get to ask questions with the person afterwards. So in theory it’s a great idea. It just and they want you to sign up for that. They do once a month and they want you to sign up for like the one closest to your birth because they don’t want parents who are like four months along taking spots for parents who are like eight months along, like they want to spread it out a little bit.
[00:08:41.240] – Alejandra Aldridge
But just the timing of ours, we never quite. We were literally in the hospital when our tour was supposed to happen.
[00:08:46.880] – Hilary Erickson
And that’s another tip also is when you’re if you come in just for an NST, that nurse is free game for whatever you want to ask her, because once she’s admitted you, she can answer all of your questions because she does know your health history like you guys all know me, that I’m like, this is just for educational purposes only, blah, blah, blah. But once she is your nurse, she can answer all the questions. She can tell you the best place to park because hospitals are insane for parking, especially once you get in.
[00:09:10.880] – Hilary Erickson
You don’t even know what door you’re close to. So I- just ask away. Yeah. If you have an NST or any scheduled stuff, ask the nurses. They we love to talk while we type because otherwise we’re just typing. Yeah. OK, what else helped you feel confident in the labor room?
[00:09:25.820] – Alejandra Aldridge
OK, number two was knowing how to get through pain and specifically the pain management section from the prenatal class was really helpful and specifically the breathing techniques you talked about. So I wasn’t like going in. I said I’m probably going to I’m going to use pain medication. I wasn’t trying to have an unmedicated birth, but I kind of wanted to see how I started. And unmedicated, I wasn’t like, check me and get the epidural right away. Sort of let’s see how far we progressed before we go to the epidural.
[00:09:53.780] – Alejandra Aldridge
But what was really helpful was in the prenatal class, you talked about all of the pain management options. So I felt really prepared once I went to the hospital. I did have in my head, you know, I think I’m going to go for the epidural instead of choosing to go for the IV pain meds or they actually offered me the laughing gas in the hospital, which you talked about, that some hospitals are doing. Some aren’t. And they also were doing a study I did not opt in, but it was a study where you could use laughing gas and VR and you could, like, stare at fishes or something like that.
[00:10:21.260] – Hilary Erickson
[00:10:22.340] – Alejandra Aldridge
And yeah. So I chose not to I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea of, like, birthing while staring at fishes. I feel like that. Just.
[00:10:31.670] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. When do you take that off.
[00:10:32.920] – Alejandra Aldridge
Right. Do they. Yeah. I just feel like that wouldn’t be a great experience. So I chose not to but knowing all of my options ahead of time made it great that once I walked into the hospital like I had in my head, I’m going to aim for the epidural.
[00:10:43.730] – Alejandra Aldridge
I wasn’t. And they offered me all the same pain medications. But I was able to like I just kind of already had that in my head. I didn’t have to decide in the moment in the hospital, especially since we I ended up giving birth at thirty seven weeks much earlier than we anticipated.
[00:10:56.210] – Hilary Erickson
A lot of people are like, I’m just going to use I.V. pain medication and I’m going to use it from one centimeter. And I’m always like woah Nellie, that ain’t going to do you from one centimeter on. And I think it’s just important to know the goods and the bads about all of those things. But I want to deliver in the fishtank now.
[00:11:12.080] – Alejandra Aldridge
Well, yeah, and specifically with the IV meds, for example, I ended up having a really long birth from when they started the induction to when a baby was born was forty hours. And so it was like. You can’t get through that with IV meds. It wouldn’t have worked, and I actually had to get a second epidural just because I had had an epidural for about twenty four hours. And Epidurals can do that. They just like stopped working after some point.
[00:11:34.540] – Alejandra Aldridge
But I’m glad that I that I made that choice as well. Personally, for me, it was a good one because I could not have made it through that with just IV pain meds, probably laughing gas I would have gotten tired of by the end of doing that for 40 hours. So I was glad I made that choice, but also had that in mind of and I was glad I made the epidural choice because I knew it would be long labor.
[00:11:53.320] – Alejandra Aldridge
Like when I went in at thirty seven weeks, this was my first baby, negative three zero centimeters, zero percent of face. Like, baby was not even close to being ready to come out. So I knew this would be a long process. And so knowing the logistics of I.V. pain meds can’t won’t last for long or all these other things helped me eliminate as well. Like, OK, epidural’s likely my best shot at long term pain management.
[00:12:15.490] – Hilary Erickson
And I mean, I have seen a few like super long inductions, but mom is just so tired after.
[00:12:22.720] – Hilary Erickson
And so yeah, if you’re going in at thirty seven weeks you really want to consider what you can really manage and what you’ll be able to sleep through, but you’ll be able to get some rest because you can’t, you can’t be awake for 40 hours and then have a baby and then be awake for 18 years. You need a nap somewhere in there. Yeah.
[00:12:38.740] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yeah. Because I had preeclampsia, which is like blood pressure. They had to check my blood pressure all the time. And I think it was it went off every like 30 minutes or something. Like it wasn’t just like the normal vitals at the shift change. They checked it all the time for good reason. And I’m glad they did because it was very high. But I got very good at basically just like sleeping through the blood pressure cuff, going off because it was going to go off at two a.m. And so I might as well try to sleep through this.
[00:13:05.260] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, it just becomes part of your body at a certain point. Yeah. Yeah. OK, we have one more thing that helps you be confident?
[00:13:12.220] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yes. My last one was knowing that my husband knew what was going on because we took the class together. And what I mean by that is, again, I’m like very like type A. I like to know what’s going on. But I also so like, if I plan a trip if I’m somehow responsible for planning a trip with other people, I feel responsible the whole time.
[00:13:29.980] – Alejandra Aldridge
Are they having a good time, do they feel comfortable, etc.. And so I didn’t realize it till after. And I was talking to my husband prepping some notes for this conversation. And he mentioned, oh, I, I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I took the prenatal class as a guy. As a girl, often you have sisters, friends, you follow more mom Instagrams probably or whatever. So you’re just like a little bit more aware of what happens in birth.
[00:13:53.290] – Alejandra Aldridge
There was still a ton I learned, but I just knew more naturally than he did. But I realized afterwards I was so grateful he knew all he did because I never at any point felt like the nurse was going to come in and talk to me. I was going to a conversation and then have to like backwards explain it to my husband, like he knew all the terminology and like all the options and everything like that. A lot of the prompts were really helpful from the prenatal class because it asks you questions like, here’s a time to discuss this with your spouse.
[00:14:17.440] – Alejandra Aldridge
So we weren’t having to do any discussing in the hospital. I honestly don’t think there were any conversations we had to make during the labor and delivery that we hadn’t already met before because we just talked through lots of options. Obviously, our birth plan I mean, I didn’t have a super close one, but I did not plan to go in at thirty seven weeks unexpectedly so that, like, there was a lot that that happened that we weren’t expecting.
[00:14:36.190] – Alejandra Aldridge
But having my husband or like your partner support person or whatever, knowing what was going to happen and be knowledgeable themselves, made it so much better because I wasn’t worried about having to make decisions myself or explain it or feel like I wasn’t explaining things well enough that made it such a fantastic experience.
[00:14:56.020] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I love that. So what back in twenty fourteen when I was like, what angle do I want to take for this prenatal class? I knew that I wanted partners to be just as engaged in the learning and all of it so that they knew what was going on.
[00:15:07.690] – Hilary Erickson
Because I feel bad for dads who have literally no idea what’s going on. It’s scary for them. So I love moms, but I love dads, too.
[00:15:15.400] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yeah, he even said that, like when I said, hey, I think we should take a class. He was like, do we really you know, what else is there to know? And even when we kind of started it, like right in the beginning, he was like, I don’t know if I need this.
[00:15:28.660] – Alejandra Aldridge
But then as we kept going, he was like, oh, I didn’t know that. Oh, that can happen. Oh, that can happen. Like or even just talking about things like whether it’s the class or were just talking about like inductions can take a really long time, you know, baby’s not just going to pop out or like or how big is 10 centimeters actually like all these things when you start like putting it in your head, you’re like, oh, that baby’s going to go through that.
[00:15:50.170] – Alejandra Aldridge
You know, you don’t really, like, think about it until you’re forced to. And so, yeah, he said he learned a ton that he thought he might have been fine otherwise, but he was also really glad that he took the class because there’s just a lot he didn’t know.
[00:16:00.970] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And I also try and make it really short so that dads aren’t, like, tapping out midway.
[00:16:06.400] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yeah. And we like we both work. And so having being able to do like we would do like one or two videos of the night or something like that and just kind of like slowly work through it. So we were both engaged through the class the whole time.
[00:16:17.440] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. I mean I’m the worst at like… I disengage after about fifteen minutes of anything, so I feel everyone’s pain. I was like, you have to make these videos short, so, yeah, I love that. What did you learn about yourself during labor and delivery?
[00:16:30.700] – Alejandra Aldridge
I think mostly in… Eloise is our daughter’s name. When she came out and they put her on my chest, like the first thought that popped in my head was I did it like I did this thing. And I kind of I knew it was going to happen. Like when you’re nine months pregnant, this thing is happening. There’s no backing up now. But I think the biggest thing was just that, like, I could get through it. And I feel like I typically am a person that has a lot of grit in general and can push through a lot of things.
[00:16:56.020] – Alejandra Aldridge
But like Labor and Delivery is no joke. And doing it for 40 hours after I was in the… from when I went to my NST. So, yeah, I went in for an NST, got emergency, or they said, “your blood pressure is too high. We have to take you to labor and delivery.” I was literally like one point up like over the threshold. And they’re like, “we have to take you to Labor and Delivery. I’m sorry.”
[00:17:18.070] – Alejandra Aldridge
It’s like, OK, so they take me, they do blood work. They’re like, yeah, we got to induce you today. But so from that point to when baby was born was fifty five hours. So it was just emotionally and mentally a really long time. But yeah, I think just going through the whole process like, “oh I did it” and having this like the stamina through the whole thing, I think I was really proud of myself for like I feel like I handled a lot of it really well and was yeah.
[00:17:40.000] – Alejandra Aldridge
I think really proud of myself for handling all that craziness with like a pretty level head and just being like, “OK, we’re doing this, let’s get the baby out.”
[00:17:47.770] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I love that because I think a lot of moms at the very end there, if you’re going naturally, there is a huge amount of pain relief. But I also think there was a huge psychological relief that it is over like the marathon, which of course it isn’t over because you only have to “labor” for the rest of forever.
[00:18:01.540] – Hilary Erickson
But that part is over you. You finish that part of the marathon. It is. So, yeah, you guys, once you experience that, like you’re like, “I’m just so glad that I’m done pushing to have this baby out. It’s amazing. So, yes, it’s such an accomplishment to, like, grow another human inside of you and then push it out.
[00:18:17.830] – Alejandra Aldridge
Yeah. Even still, sometimes I’ll like look at her and be like “I made you. I still can’t click that like I made you inside of me, but I did. So…”
[00:18:27.040] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, when my kids go when I’m like, “I need you to clean that toilet better.” They go, “Why?” And I’m like, “because I grew your entire body inside my head, get down there and clean that toilet.”
[00:18:35.740] – Alejandra Aldridge
I love that.
[00:18:36.960] – Hilary Erickson
My sixteen year old loves that. He loves to hear a lot about living inside my body.
[00:18:43.340] – Alejandra Aldridge
Just the relief is real when baby comes out. I had like a lot in your class and podcast. You talk about like, you know, the last month, you’re a superstar, you’re just feeling so pregnant because I got induced at thirty seven weeks. I was like only beginning to feel that like “I’m so pregnant” feeling. I was feeling it, but I didn’t have to do it for another month till like forty one weeks or something. And I have to admit I’m a little scared now for a future pregnancy when they’re like “Oh you’re good, we’re just going to let you go to the end.” Like, I don’t know if I can make it to 40 weeks at this point because I feel like I got a little spoiled with getting out of thirty seven.
[00:19:15.520] – Hilary Erickson
Well, I mean that everything’s a trade off, right. Quicker labor, four more weeks of misery. It’s hard to say.
[00:19:21.940] – Alejandra Aldridge
It’s true. Yeah.
[00:19:23.740] – Hilary Erickson
All right. Thanks for coming on. Thanks for taking the class. We appreciate it. When people support a small business, thanks!
[00:19:28.690] – Alejandra Aldridge
Absolutely. Thanks so much.
[00:19:30.280] – Hilary Erickson
OK, I hope you guys enjoyed that episode. I think so often going into the hospital is just kind of a nebulous blur about what to expect. But I really like like what I said. I like to know which bin and which number at Home Depot so that I can grab my stuff. I like to give you that same reference when you take a prenatal class.
[00:19:46.180] – Hilary Erickson
So hopefully this gave you guys some ideas of what to expect and how to prepare for your confident delivery. And of course, a big thanks to Alejandra for coming on. It’s really nice to get a birth experience of someone who had a positive experience, especially of a thirty seven week induction at the hospital who came out with such a great little baby. So congratulations, Alejandra. You’re going to be a great mom.
[00:20:05.260] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the smiles in your life. We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.