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Episode 094. Elevating Birth Culture with The Birth Nurse Mandy Irby

Episode 094

This episode broke me open. You’ll hear at the beginning how I’m almost kind of hesitant to bring up anything because I live on an island and what if people don’t like what I have to say about my birth stories or improving birth culture (here or anywhere). But Mandy Irby is a safe space—she is a safe person to open up to and share honestly and grow and change with. And I’m thrilled and humbled to be able to introduce her to you.

Mandy first caught my attention when another guest here on the show suggested that I check out her work. I went to her YouTube channel and wow! I discovered that she was dropping truth bombs as a L&D nurse—one of the only ones I’ve ever heard speak truth from the perspective of a nurse while also supporting parents, other nurses, and just telling the truth. It’s in that truth that birth culture can elevate and change for the better.

In her words, she likes to “shake shit up,” and if we’re being honest, that is EXACTLY what needs to happen to our modern hospital birth culture. This is not an episode that puts down or shames anyone—what it IS is a taste of honesty for a change.

She brings the mother AND L&D nurse perspective which is so balanced and refreshing and needed.

Mandy’s Bio: Mandy Irby, BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, LCCE, SpBCPE, APBT (aka The Birth Nurse) is a trauma-sensitive parent and nurse educator passionate about a more parent-centered and respectful birth culture. Mandy helps pregnant people and families prepare to birth boldly by understanding and advocating for voice, choice, and physiology. She’s been a labor nurse for over eleven years. Mandy is also a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Authorized Peanut Ball Trainer, Spinning Babies Certified Parent Educator, and she absolutely loves connecting with L&D Nurses in her Biohacking for Birth and Peanut Ball workshops. She’s currently working from home with her engineer husband and daydreams of more office space and home espresso machines. Mandy loves exploring new trails and creeks with her two young children, running with a podcast on, and celebrating no-potty-accident days with their newest 4-legged family member, Maizey.

Mandy does not tiptoe around birth culture changes that need to be made: everything from implicit biases, systemic racism, and toxic hospital culture including: abuse, assault, and coercion. She’s an advocate for mothers, birth workers, midwives, labor delivery nurses, and OBs. She’s almost like this super optimistic & compassionate glue that we all need to come together and move forward together to elevate modern birth culture.

In This Episode Mandy & I Talk About:

  • Labor & Delivery Nurses
  • Encouraging positive change in maternal care
  • Trauma-informed birth support
  • Bettering birth
  • Looking at societal messages about birth
  • Voice, choice, & physiology
  • How to prevent birth trauma
  • Focusing on the bigger picture to have the birth you want
  • Birth perspectives—and how they all differ
  • Holistic birth
  • We desperately need a culture change around birth
  • Feeling like “now what” after childbirth classes
  • There is no one size fits all option for birth
  • Confronting the destructive culture of pregnancy and childbirth
  • The shame and guilt that’s shared in stories about birth
  • The withholding of information from expecting mothers
  • The high expectations brought to our births
  • The business side of birth
  • All the ways Mandy shows up (social media, courses, in-person classes)
  • Supporting your local birthing community
  • Trauma-informed birth support
  • Preventing birth trauma
  • Postpartum processing
  • Supporting labor & delivery nurses
  • Peanut balls in labor
  • What trauma-informed care means
  • Everyone bringing their own stories and experiences to their birth
  • Understanding that there is trauma in life & can be subjective
  • PTSD
  • How our trauma presents in our birth
  • Body rules vs. facility rules
  • People being uncomfortable with changing birth culture
  • Language in medicine
  • What “best practice” means, implies, and how it hurts mothers
  • Opening up communication with your care team—sharing information openly & freely
  • Giving and receiving permission to speak up
  • How trauma is affecting birth in all ways
  • Informed consent
  • White coat syndrome
  • Processing our births—being honest & vulnerable
  • Wanting birth to be better for our own children when they grow up
  • The need for individualized and parent centered care that is trauma informed
  • Being an advocate for yourself as a birthing mother
  • Being in your animal brain during birth
  • The innate empowerment that we innately feel as moms…and how it is ignored during and after birth
  • The international perspective
  • The toxic work environment that L&D nurses/staff sometimes work in
  • The conflicts between patient centered and policy centered care
  • Seeing the nurses’ perspectives and acknowledging that they as people might also be carrying trauma as part of trauma informed care
  • Our birth culture needs a full overhaul
  • Feeling like you have to fight during birth
  • Birth has been handed over to OBs who are trained surgeons
  • The over-medicalization of birth
  • How we’ve made midwifery seem “less than” or “not the best choice”
  • The average cesarean rate is over 30%…which is unacceptable
  • Low risk vs. high risk pregnancies
  • Mandy’s second birth story
  • Being “needy” as a patient…which translates into asking for what you need
  • Gaining flexibility and control with trauma training
  • Trauma informed care is mostly just individualized care…and individualized care is doable
  • Hospital staff and labor support working together
  • Empowering everyone involved in the birth space
  • We all want to feel acknowledged for what we bring to the table
  • Being aware of those around you while still making the birthing mother the priority
  • Not making assumptions about all birth professionals or birthing mothers based on our experiences with a few that maybe left a negative taste in our mouths
  • Shining a light on bullies in the birth space
  • Being honest about options with the birthing mother
  • Implicit biases
  • Systemic racism
  • Toxic hospital culture including: abuse, assault, and coercion
  • Not tiptoeing around changes that need to be made
  • How speaking out has affected Mandy’s career
  • Everyone knows that birth culture needs to change
  • All the limitations inside the system
  • Tips from Mandy to better birth: lift the veil, be a change maker, be open and honest, and center the birthing mother in birth
  • Shaking off shame
  • Honoring the whole parent, honoring the whole nurse
  • Shifting unnecessary c-sections that are still apparent
  • Courses available at Mandy’s website
  • How we can support Mandy and be part of the change
  • VBAC Book

Mandy’s Links: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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