76: How to Optimize Your Pregnancy and Birth Experience with Mama Natural Genevieve Howland

How to Optimize Your Pregnancy and Birth Experience with Mama Natural Genevieve Howland

Today I’m talking with Genevieve Howland, the fierce and funny lady behind the super successful “Mama Natural” YouTube channel and blog. I couldn’t be more excited! Genevieve is not only a great friend to me but to so many women she has never even met. Her funny but informational videos have inspired and empowered millions of women to embrace natural pregnancy and parenting.

And now her advice will reach more women than ever with the first ever week-to-week pregnancy book from a natural perspective. Genevieve’s new book The Mama Natural Week to Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth is the first weekly guide out there (in my opinion) to really combine today’s medical insight with the ancient wisdom of natural childbirth practices.

And with C-section rates in the U.S. being about twice as high as they should be (a whopping 30% in 2015), this book couldn’t be more timely!

The Mama Natural Way: Optimize Birth and Empower Women

So, what if you’re a C-section or epidural mom? Does that disqualify you from a natural, healthy birth? Should you forget about taking a listen to the podcast/checking out the book?

The answer is, definitely not!

I’ve had a C-section (and Mama Natural herself was a C-section baby!). As much as I can’t stop talking about what I love about natural labor (and midwives, doulas, and other birth subjects I’m passionate about) I have had hospital births, a C-section birth, and home births, and you know what? … I’m so grateful for options.

“Natural” as we’re using it here just recognizes that pregnancy and birth are a normal and wondrous biological process that’s been around since time began.

In fact, I love how Genevieve talks about optimizing birth with all the tools and knowledge available to us. She truly wants every woman to feel educated and empowered to plan the birth she wants … and have the support she needs if things turn out differently.

Here are just some of the questions Genevieve and I try to tackle in this Healthy Moms episode!

In This Episode, You’ll Learn

  • Why in a world of epidurals you might even consider an unmedicated birth
  • Mama Natural’s take on which standard pregnancy procedures are medically necessary … and which are less so
  • Why ultrasounds don’t really improve birth outcomes
  • “Belly mapping” and ways to get baby into good position
  • 7 exercises to get pelvis aligned and balanced for labor
  • Pros and cons in the great home vs. hospital birth debate (yes, we go there!)
  • How chiropractic can help with birth and which kind of practitioner to look for
  • Simple birth plan tips (and how to increase your chances it gets read and followed)
  • The purpose of vernix and why it’s great to leave it on baby!
  • Why red raspberry leaf tea may or may not be all it’s cracked up to be
  • Why Dad’s health matters too!

Resources We Mention

Have a tip or story about what helped you most preparing for birth? Let me and Mama Natural know in the comments! We all have wisdom to share!

Special Thanks to Today’s Sponsors:

This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley. This company makes one of my favorite on-the-go snacks to give to my kids. Paleovalley beef sticks are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef naturally fermented the old school way. In fact each beef stick contains a billion CFUs of probiotics plus high levels of omega-3s. Go to paleovalley.com/wellnessmama and use the discount code WELLNESSMAMA10 to get 10% off. Or, get up to 40% off when you purchase in bulk, which is how I order.

Paleovalley cows are never given antibiotics, hormones, or grains and their products are gut-friendly, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free (wow!). So, again, check it out paleovalley.com/wellnessmama, with the code WELLNESSMAMA10 to get the discount.

This episode is also brought to you by StudioPress Sites. This platform makes setting up and running a blog super easy, and I wish I had it when I started! Basically it’s an all-in-one solution all for one monthly price, without all the headaches that come with trying to learn it all yourself. It includes hosting, themes, plugins, and much more. Even if you have already started blogging, this tool may save you time and money and be an upgrade from what you currently have. So check it out at wellnessmama.com/studiopress.

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.

Reader Interactions

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Reader Comments

  1. Katie – I am a huge fan of your and your guests! I enjoy your podcasts and scope of topics. I have a huge issue, however, with the most recent podcast with Genevieve, specifically as it related to the discussion about ultrasound. I, myself, had a beautiful, wonderful natural pregnancy and delivery — and also he recommended number of ultrasounds. I agree that many ultrasounds are for bonding purposes and for medical necessity (i.e. Placental prévia, etc) however, I was disturbed by the lack of mention of fetal abnormalities. I have been a reproductive genetic counselor for 10 years and have, sadly, seen so many women have affected pregnancies. Many of which resulted in a miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby with a severe condition. There is tremendous value in an ultrasound – not just for bonding but to ensure normal fetal growth and development. You always talk about options – and whether a woman would end a pregnancy due to a severe abnormality is an option that needs to be provided to her. Likewise, prenatal diagnosis by ultrasound, amniocentesis, etc is such a valuable tool for women who want information, especially for those who are using that information for birth plans – ESPECIALLY in the case of a baby with a birth defect. Early intervention, especially neonatal surgery, is something that can save the life of a baby who is detected by ultrasound. I thought it important to mention that since you or Genevieve did not discuss it at all!
    Many thanks for what you do. Women should be given ALL options for empowerment.

    • My cousin had a baby born with a congenital heart defect. It was detected on ultrasound. The baby had two heart surgeries months after birth, and died during surgery. The mother had no intentions of aborting her baby. The many ultrasounds could do nothing to change the outcome.

      So many healthy babies are being put at risk by doing “routine” ultrasounds. These babies are more likely to have brain defects, genital defects and heart defects because of overuse of ultrasound. Pictures for bonding are not worth the risk.

      If a women knows in her heart that she will abort a defected baby, then let her do ultrasounds. But it shouldn’t be routine for everyone.

  2. Thanks so much for having me on, Katie! You’re an awesome interviewer 🙂 Much love to you!

  3. I love you both so much. I’m 26 weeks into my first pregnancy with plans for an all-natural birth, and I don’t know where I would be without you two! So often I start conversations with my husband with “Genevieve says” or “Katie says” because you both feel like close friends at this point. Thanks so much for this podcast and all y’all do!!

  4. From what you wrote it is clear we both agree that there is a “baby” in the womb, not a growing blob of matter, aka a “fetus.” So, first off, let’s do some defining, that way any arguments can’t be negated due to inaccurate terms.
    -Option: a thing that is chosen or may be chosen. *
    -Right: that which is morally correct, just, or honorable. a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to
    act in a certain way.*
    Is the life or death of a baby such a simple matter that it can be reduced to being an “option,” including the life of a baby with neurodevelopmental or other abnormal issues? IF so, who gave anyone the right to decide that? Which then begs the question, is the life of a baby out of the womb worth more than one still within? And if not, then logic concludes that we should offer options to save the parents a huge bill and to dispose of “defective” babies in the hospital, opposed to rushing them to the NICU for emergency care, trying to save their life; but that is not the case, See, either both the unborn and the born baby’s lives are worth the same, or they are not; one cannot be of more value than the other because they are the same being. Comparing, then, the lives of “normal” to “abnormal” babies in or out of utero are the “normal” ones worth more than the one with developmental issues or birth defects? IF so, then who gave you, me, or anyone else the right to decide that? Dare I say, if you asked the caretakers or parents of these special, lesser developed babies, children, or now grown individuals if they ever regretted keeping their child, or if given the chance, would they do things differently; you might be the one regretting you ever asked, let alone, thought the question. The lives of many handicap, special needs, autistic, or under developed can speak for themselves, that they hold great value now just as they did before they were born.
    -Ensure: make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case. make certain of obtaining or providing (something).
    make sure that (a problem) shall not occur.*
    Ultrasounds cannot make certain anything. They are tools that can aid in knowledge of the unknown but to state than a tool, giving an image or revealing a potential problem can “ensure normal fetal growth and development” is a claim no one can back up. The more ultrasounds one gets does NOT mean the “fetal abnormalities” that were discovered will go away or get better. It will show the results of how the now known issue is affecting baby or if it is changing. Miscarriage, still birth, or babies with severe conditions cannot be avoided by simply getting an ultrasound; some other course of action has to be taken, and even then the chances of reversing a defect are slim and a”severe” defect, next to nothing. So then, we have this knowledge of an developmental issue, neuro or not, does that then give us the right to kill the baby because if it? If an ultrasound was never administered and the problem not revealed until after birth would it still be fitting to terminate the life due to this issue? What about the cases in which an exterior circumstance such as trauma in late pregnancy leading to premature birth with all the developmental issues those extra fragile babies have, trauma during delivery including the use of forceps or vacuums, or even vaccines post birth that can cause “severe abnormalities” does the same “option” stand- to kill a life or not? Have you heard about the places that offer free ultrasounds to woman considering abortions? The number that change their minds when they see their baby is staggering.
    -Need: to require (something) because it is essential or very important.
    A woman NEEDS the option to kill her baby?? Again, who gives you or any woman this right, or in your terms this “option,” to abort which is kill an unborn child? Arguing that you have the right over your body doesn’t cut it. 1. That other body INside of you, is not actually your own body, but a separate, additional body within yours. Do you then have the “right” of life or death over that baby’s body as well? 2. the baby didn’t come from your egg alone, but from the uniting of the egg and a sperm. Does the father not have a ” say” in the matter then? (If we are using that argument.) The “its for the good, the baby wouldn’t have had a happy or easy life” is just a selfish excuse for people not to devote more time for this special child. If they are lacking development in brain and other functions, they don’t realize what they are “missing out on” so that excuse is out the window too. Some people who hesitate and cringe over putting their crippled and sick animal down, don’t even flinch at aborting a baby. Something is wrong with this picture.
    And lastly, what kind of “empowerment” does one get from killing a baby in the womb? There are many testimonies from woman who have aborted babies, and they are not ones of encouragement or empowerment.
    It is ONLY the Life Giver- God himself- has the authority over death and life. and gives the rights to life and living.
    It’s not an option, “it’s” a baby!
    * All definitions were copied from Google’s search engine by simply typing in “definition of_______”

    • I agree with you on all points but I’m wondering what sparked the long response? I certainly don’t support abortion in any form and didn’t say that I did in this episode, so I”m curious what you are referencing?

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