FEATURED Guest Mama Blogger: The Triefler Tribe on the topic of VBAC


I spoke to Michelle for the first time in the beginning of July of last year. She initially reached out to me to get my input on Boca Raton Regional Hospital. I am a huge supporter of mamas choosing this hospital for their births, especially when moms are trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). Over the last four and a half years I’ve been to many hospitals from Jupiter through North Miami and have really gotten to see various hospital restrictions/policies and the way labor and delivery is run from hospital to hospital, and under larger hospital umbrellas like Broward Health, HCA, etc.

Back in July, Michelle reached out to me asking what would happen, if a rupture occurred or a c-section needed to happen. I immediately recommended to interview the practices who deliver at Boca Regional who do VBAC, and since Michelle was specifically interested in midwives (Certified Nurse Midwives) for her delivery, I suggested the practice that most of my VBAC clients have chosen over the last two years to VBAC with — Courtney McMillian, CNM and Polina Goldenberg, CNM at Boca Midwifery. Michelle and I chatted back and forth for about a month on facebook messenger and I shared all my knowledge of the previous successful vbacs I had attended with her during this time. I was really happy for her when she told me she had met with Boca Midwifery and decided to leave her OBGYN in Port St Lucie who did not do VBACs and hire the CNMs at Boca Midwifery for her trial of labor in hopes of a successful VBAC. I was so happy this mama would have the best chance at a VBAC. Her midwives and their backup OB Dr. David Lubetkin currently have a 13% c-section rate, and a very high rate of successful, smooth and safe VBAC deliveries.

In Michelle’s guest blog post below, she shares with us the story of how she planned for her VBAC and her amazing birth story. I invite you to check out and follow Michelle on her amazing Triefler Tribe blog here


Where she shares personal stories of her own infertility struggles, talks about her motherhood journey and what it’s like being a girl mom (and now has one child of each gender!) and compares her first pregnancy journey to her second.


When we found out we were pregnant again, naturally this time, after conceiving our daughter via IUI and given a 3% chance of conceiving on our own, our world was turned upside down in the most beautiful way. Having had a c-section with my daughter at 37 weeks for suspected IUGR and breech presentation, I knew this time I wanted a VBAC. I knew that in order for that to be possible, I needed to have a home birth or to find a hospital and provider willing to take me and allow me to attempt a VBAC. I wasn't a big fan of attempting a VBAC at home so I joined a VBAC support group on Facebook and was given a wealth of knowledge of where to go and who to see. That meant having to travel an hour and a half south of where I live in order to have the BEST chance of being successful.

I started going to physical therapy and a chiropractor to make sure my body was aligned and in the best shape possible. I needed to do everything in my power to make sure my son had enough room to turn head down, unlike his stubborn big sister!

The day before I went into labor, I went to physical therapy and had acupressure done.

From my previous midwife appointment the week before, I was already 3 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and my son, Weston's, head was at a 0 station so he was getting ready to arrive any day! Contractions started that night but weren’t consistent. The next day, I had my midwife appointment at Boca Midwifery. They checked me and I was still at a 3 but 90% effaced. We went all the way home and I started having irregular contractions all day long. They got to a point where they were getting uncomfortable so we decided that it was time to head down to Boca once again. My midwife was very confident that I was in early labor. Luckily, Aaron and I were able to put my daughter, Peyton, down to sleep for the night. I was bawling my eyes out because I felt in my heart that I was putting her to sleep for the last time before we brought her brother home. My in-laws came over and Aaron and I left the house for the last time without our little girl.

When we got to the hospital, at around 10:30 p.m. my contractions slowed, of course. I was still admitted and the night was only getting started. We waited a while and I started bouncing on my ball and walking around and things started picking up again. My parents decided to start heading down south, my midwife arrived at the hospital, and my doula was there shortly after. While Aaron got some last minute sleep in, my doula and I started walking the halls. Contractions started getting more regular and more painful. I was dilated to about a 4 now. (Side note: I will say that I am the WORST with cervical checks. I can hardly get through them). I decided to get into the labor tub that we rented which was SO worth it. It really helped.

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Having a doula was invaluable.

My AMAZING doula, Lisa Raynor, was absolutely incredible. I could NOT have gotten through this without her. She knew exactly what to do for each contraction and her hip squeeze technique was just what I needed. It helped SO SO much. Not only was she there for physical support, her emotional support and knowledge helped me make decisions that I otherwise would have been so confused about. I will forever be grateful to her for all she did for us.

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So, I was in there for about 3ish hours when my midwife came to check again because my contractions were clearly extremely painful and very close together. I also started feeling some pressure so I was checked again and dilated to only about 5/6ish. So it wasn’t as much progress as expected and she asked if I wanted her to break my water instead of starting a low dose pitocin. I agreed, my water was broken, and I got back in the tub. Contractions from there were excruciating. I believe my water was broken at about 4 a.m. and by 6:30 a.m. I was completely and utterly exhausted. I was practically passing out in the tub in between contractions from laboring all that day and all throughout the night without any sleep. It was SO hard to keep my focus and I was really struggling. All I wanted was rest but these contractions weren’t stopping anytime soon.

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My midwife offered to check me again and I was SO hesitant and the thought of another check, during these contractions, and having to mentally bounce back seemed impossible but I agreed. I wanted to know if I made progress… but when she was about to do it I freaked out. I was having horrible contractions, I was completely exhausted to the point that I wasn’t even making sense to myself, and mentally, the checks do not go well for me. I NEEDED to keep a positive and strong mindset and that wasn’t going to happen. I had to make a choice at that point. The anesthesiologist wasn’t going to be available until after 8:30 a.m. The thought of not having any sleep since the previous day and eventually having to push really didn’t sit well with me. As much as I wanted to do this naturally, the circumstances weren’t in my favor and I agreed to get the epidural.

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I felt a bit defeated, I’m not going to lie. I wanted the natural birth experience. It seemed like everyone in the room understood what I wanted but also knew that I was past the point of complete and utter exhaustion from being up for 24 hours and we weren’t sure how much I progressed at this point. The epidural went very well. It was basically painless and it was an instant relief from all of those horrific contractions. My midwife came back in to see what I progressed to since I was open to the check since I was numb and I was at a 6 still. At this point, any feelings of defeat of getting the epidural were GONE because if I didn’t get it and I knew that I didn’t progress after ALL OF THAT PAIN and having to go through another check… it would have put me over the edge. I was so disappointed. No one gave up on me though and everyone had to help me mentally get back in the game.

So I rested. It felt so good to finally relax and let my body do what it needed to do in a restful state of mind and in calm body.

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They started me on a low dose pit to try to get some progression going.

When I say low, I mean like at a 0.5. While I rested, my husband, midwife, doula, and birth photographer all went down to get some food.

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Shortly after, they were all back in the room but not because they were done eating. Weston started having heart decels during my contractions. My blood pressure was dropping. So they had me switch sides to see if that helped and it did for a little while.

They stopped the pitocin to let the contractions slow down a bit and to make sure his reserve was still good.

After 30 minutes, all was well, and they started the low dose pit again. They started it and my body and Weston DID NOT like that. I was having a 3 minute long contraction and he was struggling in there. I kept asking what was going on and is everything okay, but everyone was SO busy and bustling around, flipping me back and forth… I knew something was wrong. They were just about to give me terbutaline to stop the contraction but they put me on my back first and it stopped so I didn’t need the medication. They stopped the pitocin completely. At this point, if things continued to go this way, with no progression, it was looking like a repeat c-section. My midwife and back up OB have a very low tolerance for heart decels and their main goal is for a safe mama and baby.

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I knew that things weren’t looking great when my midwife sat down and explained to me that a VBAC was not a guaranteed thing and that this was a TOLAC (trial of labor after csection).

TOLAC (trial of labor after csection)

My heart sank and my husband, Aaron was sitting by my head trying to make me feel better. Of course I wanted a healthy baby and for me to be okay after all of this, but I couldn’t help but feel so SAD that I did so much during this pregnancy to give myself the BEST chance at a VBAC and that this was happening the way it was.

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My ANGEL of a nurse, Mary Jane, I will never forget her for as long as I live. I knew her for a few hours, but she is probably one of my favorite people ever.

She was the EXACT nurse I needed for this experience.

She had asked me earlier that night if I prayed. I told her no. After all of these hiccups, I was laying on my side toward Aaron, she came over to my other side and I heard her whisper in my ear “I know you don’t pray, but can I please pray over you”. I said yes, of course. She started the prayer with everyone surrounding me in the bed and it was such a calming experience. She has such a calming voice. After she did this, things were starting to look up. It was absolutely incredible.

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Later on my midwife checked me and I was STILL at a 6 after all of that time!! She asked if I had any procedures done on my cervix because there seemed to be scar tissue there. I said no, because I haven’t. I have no clue what that was about. Now we knew why I wasn’t progressing. She started to massage my cervix (I didn’t feel a THING from the epidural, but I felt this, and it was a LOT of pressure. If I didn’t have the epidural and she had to do this, I would have lost my mind). She took her hand out and said “you just went from a 6 to an 8”.


That was when I knew that getting the epidural was the right choice for me. I would have continued to labor, hard, with no progression because of some issue with my cervix. This is why I am so glad I had the care that I did. Instead of just giving up and rushing this VBAC attempt into the O.R., they did everything they could for me. After that, things were going SO well. The vibe in the room changed and everyone was chatting and laughing and truly enjoying one another. I had some energy back, my positivity was back, and Aaron looked at me and said “the vibe in here has completely changed, let’s keep this going”.

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We were all having blast and soon enough his head was coming out of me and it was time to push! This was my favorite part of the entire experience. We were all laughing and joking around while everyone is staring at my vagina waiting for more of his hair to come out! I was surrounded by Aaron and a bad ass tribe of women.

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My mother, my nurse MJ, my midwife Polina, my midwife Courtney, my doula Lisa, and Paulina, my birth photographer. The most amazing birth team I could have ever asked for. I can’t even begin to express how much I love each of these women and what they did for me and baby Weston. They kept us safe, they never gave up on me, they didn’t give up on him and they helped me achieve the birth experience I have always dreamed about.

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I pushed for less than an hour and Weston was HERE. Born January 18, 2019 at 12:45 p.m. weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and 20.5 inches long. He was put directly on my chest and it was the most blissful experience in the world. I was so relieved and said “WE DID IT”. The feeling in the room was incredible and I am so happy with how everything turned out.

I couldn’t be more grateful to EVERYONE at Boca Regional Hospital.

The most incredible staff I have ever known. Every single person is rooting for you, wants what is best for you, and takes care of you.

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I do want to talk about something else. I want every woman reading this to know that you have a choice. You have a choice in how and where you want to birth, no matter if you had a previous c-section or not. You have the right to exceptional prenatal care.

You have the right to NOT be traumatized by your birth/ birth team.

Birth doesn’t always go exactly as planned. Mine didn’t both times. But this time, I had support, I had a fantastic birth team, and I had a voice. I feel so content and happy with my birth experience. I want every woman to feel the way I do. You deserve it!

Thank you Michelle for an amazing guest blog post!

I invite you to check out and follow Michelle on her amazing Triefler Tribe blog here


REPEAT C-SECTION Birth Story with Third Baby Girl | Boca Raton Birth Stories


This is a blog post of a very moving, emotional, and powerful birth story about a mama who experienced a journey of TOLAC, attempted VBA2C, and CESAREAN BIRTH

A TOLAC is a trial of labor after a previous c-section birth

A VBA2C is a Vaginal Delivery after two prior c-section births

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Almost 6 years ago I was being induced in labor room 8 at Boca Raton Regional Hospital with my first child Kate. After about 15 hours of failure to progress, I was brought into Operating Room #1 and my first daughter was born there via cesarean delivery.

Despite the fact that I have worked in almost every single labor and delivery room at this particular hospital over my 4 year career as a labor and delivery photographer, it has been almost 6 years since I have been in this specific LD room. Labor Room #8 at Boca Regional.

On September 23rd, 2018, I never expected that my client in labor with baby girl #3 who was attempting a TOLAC and hoping for a vaginal delivery after two prior c-section births, would have a similar story to experience.

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My birth client hired midwives Polina Goldenberg and Courtney McMillian at Boca Midwifery for the birth of her third baby. Her previous two daughters were born via cesarean section and she was hoping for a vaginal delivery with baby #3.

Mama headed into Boca Regional on a Sunday early morning at 4:05am since her labor started.

Around 8:45am, I was already visiting a Fresh 48 session client at the same hospital in post partum who had a cesarean birth the night before, who actually told me that they bumped into each other in triage, so once I was done capturing my client’s older children meeting their 3rd child for the first time, I joined her in LD room 8 around 9:30am. I stayed with them for a little while and took some photos of her in early labor.

Mama labored through some pretty intense contractions for a while.

She walked the halls of the hospital with her midwife Polina and her daughters to help things progress and squatted and leaned against the hospital rails to get more productive contractions.

At around 2:30pm, I was back in my office when I received the update that mama started getting a little nervous during the latest more intense contractions. She started feeling a pulling and stretching sensation around her previous c-section incision site. Her midwife and the back up OBGYN Dr. David Lubetkin, who was overseeing the labor (a doctor who backs up a CNM Midwife for VBAC must be present in the hospital from the moment a vbac patient is in the hospital in labor until delivery in case an emergency c-section must be performed) both felt it could be scar tissue stretching during contractions due to the two previous c-sections, but with mama being so nervous, no one wanted to take the chance, not even mama.

So we prepared for the operating room.

For me as a mommy of two girls, having two c-sections, one of which happened starting in Labor room 8 and ended in the Operating Room 1, this started feeling really sentimental and emotionally compelling for me. I started feeling a very sisterhood connection with this laboring mama as she and her husband got dressed in OR gear

Since contractions hadn’t become so intense that mama felt she needed her labor doula with her before, we called her and asked her to come to hang out with mama’s older daughters while we would be in the operating room. Pictured below is one of my favorite labor doulas in south Florida, Lisa Raynor, hugging mama just before we headed into surgery.

Sometimes moms ask me what happens with their doula support if they need a c-section. The answer is — sometimes mom wants their doula to join us in the operating room, to help talk them through the process, to reassure them that everything they are feeling, both emotionally and physically during the entire process is normal and safe, to be there in support of their partner or spouse and reassure them whether all is going well, and sometimes, staying behind with your older children is just what you may need your doula to do.

When I went in for my repeat cesarean with my second baby, I asked for my doula to come to the hospital and stay with my 3 year old while I was in the operating room. It really made me feel very reassured she was with a person I could trust to keep her safe and preoccupied, so she wouldn’t be sad, scared or missing me while I was in surgery.

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As we walked back to the operating room, mama had to pause a few times as she continued to have contractions. When you spontaneously go into labor before a c-section, you continue to feel contractions until you have received either an epidural or spinal with anesthesia that blocks the sensation of intense contracting of your uterus.

This mama took every single wave and surge like a laboring goddess. I was so in awe of her. She really struck such an emotional nerve with me. I don’t know if it was because she is also a girl mom just like me, and I’ve secretly always dreamed of having three daughters, or if it was the linearity of the event — girl mom, using my favorite midwives for her birth, same hospital as my first, same labor room, same operating room. Maybe it was everything all at once. But I felt such a protective instinct over this mama. Almost like I had to be her big sister in these moments.

Perhaps the sweetest moment of any labor ever was this moment that my client’s husband took her beautiful face in his hands and kissed her just before she walked into the operating room

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And this moment eerily reminded me of my own experience, my own picture through the operating room window next to the sink that my husband took with our cheap black Friday special Nikon camera, (see the photo below on the right) I can only try to recreate in an imaginary fantasy what everything looked like from the outside from this moment:

And here is where I step back in, feeling so humbled & honored that this beautiful couple and family would trust me with this very tremendous moment and story. How I wish there could have been someone to capture these moments of our story with our daughters. Everything I do a birth photographer, I do with the intention of capturing every single moment I never got to have on camera from my two births.

A lot of moms ask me what happens if they have to have a c-section, who will be with them in the operating room. While I don’t know what happens at other hospitals, at Boca Regional, the hospital is a huge proponent of moms being fully supported. Every unexpected c/section delivery where the mom was originally with a midwife, continues to be accompanied by the midwife through the entire delivery even if in the Operating Room. This is HUGE to psychological health for moms during the partum partum period.

After baby girl was born into the hands of Dr. Lubetkin and midwife Polina, the doctor did see that the stretching/pulling sensations mama was getting during contractions and labor was indeed from a lot of scar tissue surrounding her previous two csection incision site. It was however a relief to hear it was not a uterine rupture.

And from this moment of the first meeting, all the emotions that came flooding after, the story that unfolded, was the most beautiful, most healing experience of my life. Seeing a mother SO supported and surrounded by so much love during a cesarean birth was so heart fulfilling.

If you thus far weren’t moved — oh come on :)

Then the following meeting story will completely melt your heart.

As soon as baby girl was born, and mama was brought back to her labor room, both big sisters were waiting with doula Lisa Raynor ready to meet this sweet princess.

Their meeting is EVERYTHING!!

I live for moments like this.

This was also my first time in the last 4 years that my ovaries really started aching, I started picturing myself as a mama of three. I didn’t even care if my third birth would be a vba2c or a third repeat csection, as long as it would be with this birth team, at this hospital, and with both of my daughters at the hospital immediately to meet their baby, I kind of really wanted it in a heart beat. My ovaries ache just thinking about it. My ovaries ache just writing it right now! Baby fever is so contagious! And this birth story and meeting story is completely intoxicating.

At least for me. My hubby better be careful, haha!

Dad’s Face as he sees their “baby” meeting the new baby!

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Oh my stars!

His face totally reminds me of my husband face (see cell phone picture below)

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Two Empowering Birth Stories of Women of Color

September Mama Birth Story

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Powerful Woman Empowering Women

I love how mama looks at her first born (daughter) in such awe and admiration as if to say with her eyes — we did it, together!

When I first walked into her labor room in the middle of the night at labor and delivery in Boca Raton, the first thought I had upon seeing her was ‘wow this mama is powerful!’

She was laboring on all fours, at the very end stages of her labor, as her body was naturally progressing to 10cm on its own, without any medications, and I was in absolutely awe of her natural born power.
South Florida is a focal point in the U.S. with the highest c-section rates. And in today’s day, it can be terrifying to be an African American woman giving birth, because the mortality rates and mistreatment of women of color during pregnancy and birth are the highest out of any race of women in the world.

That is why this mama knew she wanted the most natural and holistic and safe birth experience so she made well researched choices when choosing her birth team. She went with a hospital midwife team (CNMs Courtney McMillian and Polina Goldenberg) that have the 3rd lowest c-section rate in south Florida and a reputation for being extremely gentle and natural minded.  (Boca Midwifery)
I am so wowed by this amazing first time mom! And so humbled that she would trust me 110% with capturing this moment for her!

Best of all, mama recognizes that I am a birth photographer on a mission and completely stands behind me with sharing her birth photos with you all and this powerful message. 


May Mama Birth Story

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Best Position to Give Birth in

The best position for the baby to be in to pass through the pelvis is with the head down and the body facing towards the mother's back. This position is called occiput anterior (source:

That is the position this sweet baby girl is being born in, about to be caught by her midwife & her mom.

When I was about to become a mom 6 years ago, I had never seen a beautiful, not intimidating photograph like this one. This doesn't show fear, grossness, chaos, danger. Instead, this image shows grace, peace, comfort, safety. We’ve been taught that birth is a hugely medical process and the scariest moment of a woman's life. But this moment proves that birth can be peaceful, calm, supported and completely safe, where ever you choose to birth if you make smart, educated choices.
The midwife catching this baby is Licensed Midwife, Gelena Hinkley of Peaceful Pregnancy Pathways and Natural Birthworks Birth Center in Margate, FL. She is also our Midwife Highlight of the week. 
I have received permission from my birth photography client, a woman of color, to speak out about the safety, tidiness and comfort of her birth. Having your baby the way she did, unmedicated and at home, does not have to be a lower class irresponsible, cheap and messy route to choose as sometimes is the common myth discussed among women of color. Having your baby unmedicated and at home can be empowering, clean, safe, and a wonderful experience for you and your entire family - as this mom felt.
Did you know that the statistics of mortality/complications during labor, birth and post partum are the worst numbers for black women in America? 
Key to changing these statistics begins with knowledge during pregnancy. Interview multiple providers with low c/section rates, low mortality rates and high positive feedback, hire experienced doula & make smart choices about the location you choose to birth in.
I am grateful to my birth client for being brave in giving me permission to share photos from her birth. Women of color have suffered far too long, it is time to bring peaceful, supported, empowered birth to all women.

Early Pregnancy Symptoms Before The Pregnancy Test & During Pregnancy

I remember so vividly the feeling after you hope you conceived and between the time you were able to test positive on a home pregnancy test. Those days were the longest. Except maybe the last month of pregnancy. The start and the end of every conception to birth journey is so unique in that you need to let go, and let time just happen. But it really feels like you’re briefly sucked into a time vortex where the clocks stop moving and you’re just tapping your finger and waiting.

Remember, none of the below is medical advice. I am just a mama, and I happen to love pregnancy and birth and love to write about it. If you are genuinely concerned about your pregnancy, issues conceiving, or with upcoming labor/birth, make sure you ask your medical provider your questions.

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With both pregnancies (when we were trying to get pregnant) I read that if you tried at the very beginning of your ovulation cycle, or even 2-3 days before your ovulation cycle began, you’d have increasingly higher odds of getting pregnant with a girl because something about male DNA carrying sperm dying out quicker, so by the time you were at the peak of your ovulation cycle, only female DNA carrying sperm remained. I can only prove this twice, because I have only two kids, but both of them are girls, so maybe it worked? :)


Another method for getting pregnant that I used was called the candlestick method. It’s when you kick your feet up in the air, and place the palms of your hands against your back. Apparently this is a known fertility exercise during ovulation and conception. I again don’t know if its effective, but its what I tried with both babies. It’s known well as a yoga move too.


Both times that I got pregnant with my two daughters, the very first early pregnancy symptom that I experienced with each pregnancy before I could even test positive with a home pregnancy test was a fever! Yes a fever! With both pregnancies! It lasted a very short amount of time, I can’t remember exactly anymore because my very first pregnancy was 7 years ago, and my second pregnancy was 4 years ago, but I believe the fever was less than 24 hours in duration and it was a low-grade fever both times, around 100.6. I can only guess the reasoning behind this was my body lowering its immune defenses as it prepared for implantation.


Once we tried for each baby, I was so impatient to know if I had gotten pregnant successfully. Instantly I started googling what early symptoms of pregnancy could feel like before a home pregnancy test would actually give me real results.

With both of my times getting pregnant, one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy that I was personally able to feel was menstrual type cramping. Later on I found out that this could be a sign of a fertilized egg traveling down the fallopian tubes to your uterus.

With both pregnancies very early on I experienced slight bleeding between weeks 6-8 which I thought could be implantation bleeding.

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Right away with both pregnancies in the first trimester, I immediately felt tremendous fatigue. When I got pregnant with my first baby, I’d come home from work, and fall asleep right away for a late afternoon/early morning nap. Once I got pregnant with my second baby (and something nobody tells you that complicates things with pregnancy related fatigue!) I couldn’t nap anymore when I felt exhausted! Because it seemed that the moment I got pregnant with my second baby, my first child who had just turned 2 years old, completely stopped napping.


HELLO Pregnancy! The Metallic Taste is the one thing most complained about by myself during both pregnancies, family members of mine, friends of mine and even my birth photography clients. It just tastes like you have pennies in your mouth, and its super unpleasant. It can make food taste awful and unappealing causing you to eat less, causing you an empty belly and more nausea, and it can just be an overall frustrating feeling to not be able to wash it out of your mouth no matter what you do!

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My favorite trimester has always been the 2nd trimester. The second trimester goes from week 13 to 26 of pregnancy.

My belly always started to look more round, so I was visibly pregnant, my skin was tight around my belly, which made me feel more confident in myself, pregnancy caused fatigue went away, and although I was still nauseous during this time with my first pregnancy, the nausea definitely got better with my second pregnancy during this trimester and by the middle of the second trimester my pregnancy related nausea was completely gone.

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Nausea was something I unfortunately experienced A LOT of during both pregnancies.

During my very first pregnancy with my first daughter, my nausea started at about 6-7 weeks and lasted consistently every day until the 37th week when it finally dissipated. No matter what I tried to eat or drink, I couldn’t keep anything down. In the middle of the day, either just before lunch or immediately after lunch time, I could keep down anything chocolate, but that was literally it. So it was no surprise to me that my now almost 6 year old daughter is a huge chocolate addict!

It wasn’t until my first baby was about a year and a half old that I found out that I experienced during my first pregnancy a similar condition to Kate Middleton called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It was actually in an article about her pregnancy which is how I found out.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a pregnancy complication that is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration. Signs and symptoms may also include vomiting many times a day and feeling faint. Hyperemesis gravidarum is considered more severe than morning sickness. (source).

I also later found out that many women who experience Hyperemesis Gravidarum (also called HG) during their pregnancy end up being hospitalized for dehydration and malnutrition since they cannot keep anything down to hydrate properly or nourish themselves.

The OBGYN I was with during my first pregnancy never mentioned this medical condition. He also never gave me any solutions to treating it. I realize now looking back, I was very underweight, although I gained a healthy 15lbs, I really should have gained more. I looked very thin until 37 weeks of my pregnancy. My OBGYN recommended oral 8mg zofran tablets but they only barely took the edge of for 30 minutes per day. So every day I had to decide which 30 minutes of the day was worst and take it then. It was misery. It was like being sea sick for 30 weeks of my pregnancy! Or a really bad hangover.

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So there you have it, those were the bulk of my early pregnancy symptoms and some of the most prominent during my pregnancies. There were definitely many other symptoms I experienced as time went on. More food cravings, headaches, round ligament pain, back pain, mood swings, etc, but the above were the ones that hung around for most of my pregnancies! I hope this blog post was helpful or insightful to you on what to possibly expect when you’re pregnant.

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I am a birth photographer in Boca Raton, FL. I started out 11 years ago originally photographing engagements, weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties. But once I had my first child almost 6 years ago, I felt a calling to only working with new moms. I limited my work to maternity sessions, newborn photography, photographing families and breastfeeding photo shoots. I became very well known in south Florida for my advocacy of breastfeeding.

Shortly after my daughter turned 2 years old, I attended my first birth as a photographer. It was for one of my maternity / breastfeeding photography clients.

The moment I photographed her birth a little over 4 years ago now, I knew then that I wanted to be a full time on call birth photographer & birth videographer as my career.

I never looked back.

Today, I have photographed almost 100 births in the last 4 years, ranging from birth center births, to home births with midwives and doulas, inductions in the hospital, unmedicated births in the hospital, surrogate births, twin births both vaginal and c-section, schedule cesarean births, emergency cesareans, and I love what I do. I have birth great professional relationships with the midwives, OBGYNs and labor doulas here in south Florida, many of my colleagues are baby nurses, lactation consultants, pediatric sleep specialists, physical therapists and chiropractors. I would love to work with you for your birth story, and typically I book about 5 to 7 months in advance, however, it is not unheard of for me to sometimes take a client who is in the last two months of their pregnancy, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Home Birth & Why The Hospital and Obstetricians came into the picture

What the biggest shock about birth is that no one seems to know about this seemingly well kept secret of home birth. The truth is, it’s really no secret. Our modern day society simply does not do a decent job of educating our country’s young men and women to honor, respect and take an interest in parenthood until they find themselves pregnant. The priority in schools is sexual education, but no emphasis or time is spent on educating about the amazing motherhood journey.

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Home birth midwives here in south Florida carry a magic with them that needs to be shared with the world. They awake in the middle of the night, grab their luggage packed with midwifery tools, and go to a woman’s home to aid with the delivery of her baby. With a low risk pregnancy, any woman can birth at home under the care and guidance of a licensed midwife.

What is so magical about this to me is that this is how ALL babies use to be born. The shift to hospital births started in the 20th century. I scoured the internet to gather the history of birth for you, and landed where an article written under the guidance of Rutgers University professor Margaret Marsh shares the history behind the transition from home to hospital in the 1760s.

“In the colonial period, all the way up to 1760 or so, there was no real challenge to midwives delivering babies,” explained Marsh. When a woman was ready to give birth, her female relatives, and friends would help her through the process, along with a midwife.

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Professor Marsh the went onto say that “it was a scary process, babies died, women died, having a baby was a frightening thing,”  (Source:

I wanted to touch on that statement, because it honestly stopped me in my tracks. The entire article featuring Professor Marsh was very fascinating, and while I think that is still a common misconception in the modern day world, and many home birth myths exist around this concept, I do think it is unfair to leave it at that statement. Midwives and obstetricians should find a healthy balance between high risk and low risk births, complications during labor / birth / post partum, and when an obstetrician should be required to step into the process.

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Professor Marsh continues onto say that: around 1760, upper class women started to want to have doctors at their births. They thought that because the doctors had more education they could deliver a safer birth. Doctors delivered babies in women’s homes, and doctor-assisted births became more popular over time. “In 1900, about half the babies were delivered by midwives. By 1935, only fifteen percent were delivered by midwives,” said Marsh.

“Over time, there developed a rivalry between doctors and midwives, ” she added. “Doctors would say ‘we know more about anatomy, we are better suited to do this.’ Midwives said ‘we are women, we have experience, we know how we do this.'”

For many decades, the tug of war over approaches broke down along the gender lines; all of the doctors were male, and all of the midwives were female.

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The shift to hospital births started in the 20th century. “What happened in the beginning of the 20th century was anesthesia for delivering children, and they wanted to have pain-free childbirth.”

But Marsh says the outcomes for women weren’t that great. “Lots of complications, lots of infections, it didn’t have the effect that women desired. They wanted safer, less painful childbirth, but in the first third to half of the century, it was not always safer childbirth.”

Marsh explained that in the 1930s, most of the midwives were practicing in rural areas, and were often called “granny midwives,” people who learned their trade on their own. “It did seem for a while as if midwives were going to become obsolete. The 1940s, 50s and 60s, you get doctors, especially obstetricians delivering all the babies.” Marsh says the feminist movement of the 1970s revived women’s interest in midwives. “Women once again wanted to control their own childbirth experience.” (Source:

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This past week I learned for the first time in my 33 years of life that my mom was born at home. My grandmother (my mom’s mother) went into labor in the early morning just as her husband was leaving for work, and she sent her cousin to get the local midwife (back then in eastern European slavic countries a midwife was called an Akuszerka). She was pregnant with twins, it was her second pregnancy. It was ten minutes in between the births of both twins, my mom was born second.

My whole life I grew up in south Florida learning about western medicine. For me, I didn’t even know what a midwife was or did, in all the 27 years of my life leading up to the birth of my first child, I had never been educated about birth, let alone home birth. And now, 6 years deep into motherhood, it is a shock and exciting revelation to me to find out that my own mom was born in her home.

Hannah’s Home Birth with her Fourth Baby

When I got to Hannah’s home, early afternoon, the air was still. The music was soothing.

I felt as though everything was right and still with the world. A peaceful, still afternoon.

Hannah was swaying through contractions. Her husband was at her side.

My Journey with Polyhydramnios, C-sections and Loose Post Partum Belly Skin

⚪️⚪️ SELF REVEAL ⚪️⚪️

I’m kind of an open book. Too many things were kept from me by society about motherhood, so I am a proponent of transparency. I think many women can relate to this statement, because how many women can honestly say that they knew much about pregnancy, labor, birth and post partum BEFORE they had their first child? Unless you’re a labor and delivery nurse, a labor doula or post partum doula, a midwife or an OBGYN, chances are, you, similarly to me, didn’t have much of an education about motherhood before you became a mom for the first time to your own child.

A few weeks ago I finally took a deep breath and I went to see a revered specialist (who I still highly admire btw) in the plastic surgery field because I wanted to be “fixed”

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Going from being somebody who easily fit into any piece of clothing, never worrying about size labels, never second-guessing my health, to suddenly finding myself with pretty serious self-body image issues after polyhydramnios with two pregnancies... This picture is my body TODAY (btw I’m not underweight! ❌ I’m just inhaling and my ribs say hello!)

Here I have been taking pictures of women in the most compelling moment of their motherhood experiences, truly believing and telling them they are radiantly gorgeous — never did any of their bodies ever make me feel they weren’t stunning. I never looked at weight as a negative. I always saw radiant beauty.

But here I was with a self-body image problem.

I hated my body. Well, my stomach. What polyhydramnios did to it, it became unrecognizable to me. It didn’t matter how much weight I lost after my second pregnancy, the stomach was still there. So I went to a plastic surgeon asking them what they would need to do to “fix me” so I could go back to being beautiful 

what I didn’t expect was for that visit to be the moment I would fall in love with my postpartum body.

Someone telling me that they would take away the skin I’ve lived in for 33 years, the stupid dragon tattoo I got when I was 21 that over these years became a symbol of my badass motherhood that I didn’t even realize — until they were telling me that with a tummy tuck, it would have to go. 99% of my abdominal dragon tattoo would have to go.

I walked out of the office a changed woman.

I never in a million years thought I would want to keep this skin, find my pp body beautiful & attractive. 

Fast forward a few weeks, I’m laying on my living room floor this morning, taking a photograph specifically to share with women out there who might have body image issues after their pregnancy.


It took me 6 years, and I finally believ

A Mama's June Birth Story (Hospital Birth) Boca Raton, FL | Paulina Splechta Photography

Story by guest writer, Sarah A.

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With my first pregnancy, I didn’t hire a doula or have any other support team aside from my husband. I was pregnant with twins, a first time mom and I was inexperienced in the ways of a hospital birth. So much of the process was out of my control, preeclampsia meant I needed to be induced, I had to have an epidural early on in case of an emergency c-section and I had to deliver in an OR. Birth isn’t something you can predict or control, but with my first birth, I felt so disconnected and left out of the process itself. I also felt my birth preferences were largely ignored and that left me with feelings of sadness and regret about my twins’ birth.

When I became pregnant for the second time with a singleton in 2017, I wanted to take full advantage of the experience and make sure I was as connected and present as possible throughout my pregnancy and baby’s birth. This led me to the decision to hire a doula. I researched several doulas in my area and ended up hiring Lisa Raynor. In addition to attending my birth, Lisa was a strong support to me throughout my pregnancy. She helped me craft a detailed list of birth preferences and was instrumental in communicating them to my medical team and making sure they were followed the day of the birth.

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During my pregnancy, she was always available if I needed to talk and helped me tremendously through some scary weeks after a few worrisome ultrasounds.

She reminded me that I had a say-so over my birth and helped me think through my options during stressful moments.

On the day of my son’s birth, Lisa was with me as much or as little as I needed, stepping in during the moments when things got tough and supporting my husband and I through a birth process we had never navigated before.

This time around, I was lucky to have a calm and beautiful birth experience but I also credit my doula with making this possible through her knowledge, experience and caring support. I felt like an active participant in my birth this time around and it truly made all the difference. Having a doula helped me achieve the pregnancy and birth experience I envisioned and heal some of the old wounds of regret from my last birth. Lisa provided such seamless and loving support, she felt like a member of our family and I will forever be grateful to her. I would absolutely recommend hiring a doula for pregnancy and birth to any mama-to-be, first time or otherwise.

Only 5% of babies are born on their Estimated Due Date (Birth Center Birth) Hollywood, FL | Paulina Splechta Photography

Only 5% of babies are born on their EDD ( Estimated Due Date )

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We knew that very well going into Madison’s pregnancy with baby. Her due date was 8 days into September, but her entire pregnancy, she felt that her baby boy would make an appearance earlier than expected. Sunday night I was up late printing birth preferences for Madison and Drew (just in case they needed to be transferred from their birthing facility - the Hollywood Birth Center, to the hospital, (Joe DiMaggio Hospital) for any reason, so that the medical staff would know that we are grateful that she can deliver at their facility and willing to work with them as a team). I knew it in my heart that Madison was going to labor and birth smoothly, my intuition was telling me that we wouldn’t need to pull the birth preferences list out, but I always like to be prepared just in case.

Madison and Drew became a very special couple for me through their pregnancy. They carried an energy with them as first time parents. They are the sweetest couple that lived next door to each other for 18 years, blissfully unaware of the radiant future that awaited them. But they are completely and utterly the ‘girl next door’ fairytale that we all day dream about.

From the first time I met her, I loved how she said to me how important pictures are to her.

I know that because I’m a photographer that its expected for me to say pictures are important to me too. But even before I ever became a professional photographer, pictures have always been such a vital part of my life. I have albums from before I was born from eastern Europe of my families on both sides. Albums from my childhood, from my first school dance, from Christmases for decades, of my own children. I look through photos constantly and love to think back on those memories. For me, my albums and my pictures are priceless.

So these powerful words from Madison “pictures are really important to me,” completely resonated with me.

And just like that, as part of this mama’s intuition, two full weeks before her estimated due date, labor went into strong contractions 5 to 6 minutes apart 2:30am.

(((As I sit here, thinking back on the night of August 27th, just two days after my second daughter turned 3 years old, and write this blog post, I find it completely makes sense that my notifications for my Instagram app pop up on my phone, that in this exact moment, Madison shared a photo from her birth story on Instagram and tagged me. Sharing a wave length! This mama is SO special to me!)))

I drove to meet them at the birth center and walked in at about just before 7:45am, about 15 minutes after they arrived. I see Madison experiencing the full, raw, pangs of labor, surrounded by waves of support coming from Drew and his sister Daye. Midwife DellaReece filling up the birthing tub with warm water. The sun aching to rise from the horizon.

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Despite the intensity of the waves of labor, Madison breathed and swayed fluidly through each, almost as if she was a third time mama.

She was surrounded by the flawless support of her birth team.

Fully trusting in them and in her laboring body.

She knew she would be meeting her baby boy soon.

Only minutes later she asked if we could turn off the lights.

Nothing made me happier.

I cannot tell you how much I love working with the natural, available light in a birth. Photography is the art of working with light, and when I am looking for light sources to tell a story, it is when I am at my best and most magical.

What made this room so special is that Madison chose the room in the Hollywood Birth Center that faced the East, the ocean. I know how special that is to her, because she is a child of the ocean.

For me, it was the room that faced the birthing sun of August 27th, 2018.

Drew Krush

Born, August 27, 2018


Togetherness - The Birth Journey Done Together with your Partner (Home Birth) Miami Beach, FL | Paulina Splechta Photography

As first time moms, even sometimes second time moms, we often don’t know what we should expect from the last few weeks of our pregnancies, let alone our labors and births. So it is completely normal when the partner (or spouse) is clueless as to how to support their significant other who is in labor.

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Even if you’ve spent the entire pregnancy supporting her through hyponbirthing, childbirth education classes, maybe even the Bradley method (which involves both parents, prepares the mother to deliver her baby without pain medications and educates the partner in birth coaching techniques), it is still quite common and normal for partners to freeze during labor.

Birth is complex and often unpredictable. No two labors are alike, not even among a woman’s own three children.

I am a big believer in go with the flow, and fill the role that you feel called to.

You may not know what to say, you may not know what to do, but just being there can often be enough.

When a Birth Photographer Puts Down their Camera

When the camera gets put down: moments rarely documented in a birth story

I cannot accurately describe to the fullest, the positive energy and empowerment in this room in one moment. You know how when you have a child sometimes you think to yourself: wow I had no idea how much I needed this child to become the best version of myself?

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I cannot tell you what an overpowering realization it is to me that these two women here make me feel this way. 

When I met Lisa (Lisa Raynor Coral Springs and Boca Raton Childbirth Doula) my mentality and philosophy of my work was almost 180º from what it is today. My confidence level, my energy level; everything in my entire life as a momtrepreneur was so different. It’s not that this level of different was a bad thing, but I was stuck in that post partum 4th trimester for far too long, and Lisa saw it immediately, but more importantly, it’s what she saw that I didn’t see that made the tremendous impact on my life: she saw what I could be. 

And isn’t that a sign of the greatest life coach? Precisely. That is what Lisa has been to me since May 2017. The most unexpected blessing that fell upon my life and I am utterly grateful that this woman, wise beyond her years, so intuitive and remarkable, saw in me what I had lost sight of. 

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In comes Kat. (Dr. Kathleen Vigo, Painless Pregnancy) I had no idea what this woman would do for me when I first met her. Even after learning extensively about the amazing work she does in physical therapy with her pregnant and post partum patients, and after recommending her to a dozen of my clients in a year, I still remained so blissfully unaware and unknowing of how powerful her work is.

Who could have possibly predicted that this soulful, stunning individual would come to my home for a 9 month follow up (following our previous physical therapy sessions), literally 10 days before giving birth to her daughter, and heal me of six years of trauma?! I didn’t even know until the night before my daughter's 3rd birthday, barely one month after Kat's visit, when I revisited the slideshow I had made of cell phone pictures from my second child's birth and realized - I was no longer feeling the Pandora's box of the negative range of emotions I have been feeling for the past 6 years of motherhood. Instead, I was feeling gratitude, relief, joy, self-awareness; I felt as though I was for the first time in six long years that had been riddled with emotional trauma from two very off-course labor and birth experiences, instead I was suddenly feeling ONLY full of joy for the first time ever. I shocked myself.

But instantly I was in doubt. The 60mph thoughts racing through my head distracted me from realizing this was all Kat's work from a couple weeks back. I started to doubt and ask myself would I still be as passionate about my work now that my trauma had vanished? I had always thought the foundation for why I was passionate about my career was because I was holding onto two traumatic births.

Then I wondered, would all these positive feelings go away after this celebration of the third year of life for my baby girl passed?

I waited and waited, but saw that none of this came to fruition.

My life had changed.

My perspective had changed.

My heart and soul had healed.

So when Kat went into labor with her second child, there was no doubt in my mind that I would have to give it my all to be present in this moment for her. In a room with two women who had completely changed my life, who had empowered me to become the best version of myself. With one of my favorite OBGYNs in south Florida, Dr. Feldman (of Omega Women's Care)

The pictures above show a story of what happens when a birth photographer puts their camera down. In the first moment, Kat reached out for me to hold her hand during a contraction while her most amazing doula, Lisa Raynor supported her with affirmations and physical support. And in the second moment I was waiting to receive her placenta to help package it for transport. These pictures show why my relationships with my clients mean everything to me in my work. It is a realization and transformation of the artist unraveling, that it may have been my experiences with my daughters in the form of emotional trauma that inspired me to change what purpose I did my work for, but it is my relationships with my clients that is why I continue to work in this most fulfilling field of supporting women through their pregnancies and births as their birth story artist. 

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