Havin’ Babies

No, I’m not having any more babies, but tons of other folks are so that is why I am writing this post.  Too make a long story short, my oldest son Coby was born via c-section because he was breech (head up instead of down), my middle son Jaden was my VBAC baby (vaginal birth after a cesarean) and born at a hospital in San Jose, CA.  I was thrilled that I was able to have my second child naturally and the recovery compared to having surgery was so much easier.  By the time Rowan came around, we were living here in little Chico, CA and things had really changed.  All the local hospitals were terrified of lawsuits and the insurance companies that take care of that sort of thing put the hammer down and both of our local hospitals would not and still won’t allow any pregnant woman to attempt a natural child birth if they had undergone a prior c-section. It did not matter that I had already had a second baby naturally and with no complications; I could not even find a doctor who was willing to take me on as a patient once I explained that I did not want to have an unnecessary c-section.

This crazy journey led me down the most amazing path. Desperate to avoid surgery, I started researching the option of a home birth and I found Dena Moes who is a homebirth nurse midwife here in Chico, CA.  I was scared, excited, relieved and bewildered that I could not choose how I wanted to have my baby in a hospital but empowered that I could choose to have my baby at home.

Rowan was born in the wee morning hours during a full October moon and although this was a few months before my paleo journey began, it was in some ways a small beginning to my paleo roots.  Rowan entered this world in my little cave, in the corner of my bedroom, into the arms of my husband, with my attentive, caring and supportive midwife and doula standing by.

For those of you mamas to be out there who might be experiencing a similar situation to my own, or mamas who are interested in exploring the option of a homebirth I suggest you visit the beautiful and inspiring blog of my midwife, Dena.  Her latest post is a story similar to my own and she shares invaluable and inspiring information for all parents-to-be.

Dena Moes RN, MSN, CNM is a homebirth midwife in Chico, California and surrounding communities. She has been involved with birth since 1993, and has worked in both home and hospital over the years.  Dena is the mother of two homebirthed daughters and shares her life with Adam Moes, L.Ac., a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

She is a writer, musician, dancer, and a passionate advocate for gentle birth, natural parenting, and all things life-affirming and sustainable.

Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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  1. Love this post. I too had my first child via c-section (what a lousy experience) and my two subsequent children via VBAC. Although I live in a city of 1/2 million I still shocked people when I told them that my MD “allowed” me to have a VBAC. They were more surprised that I had to be induced each time *gasp* because my kids seemed quite happy where they were. It is so sad how misinformed people are about this information. I need to go back through your posts in case I missed it…but if you haven’t already done so – could you post some helpful hints on getting your kids to eat Paleo. I have a four year old who will eat and try anything and a 3 and 18mo who clamp their lips shut and turn away. Tried all the traditional suggestions…including bribery. Just wondering if you have had more luck with the more determined little ones.

    1. Ulla Lauridsen says:

      Hunger is the best cook. Let them starve! It will dramatically increase their motivation for trying your food. Of course, never let it turn into a war or one up manship. Offer a range of things, so you don’t seem unreasonable – fruit, veggies, eggs, fish and meat – and let them choose. Don’t pay too much attention. Just ask ‘want some of this?’ – ‘are you full?’ – ‘can I have the rest of that?’ (that last thing – asking if you can have their food – as if you really want it worked wonders for my husband and I with all the kids).

    2. Hi Kim! If you haven’t already, listen to the podcasts that we have recorded, tons of helpful tips to get the kids on board!

      1. Also, simply asking them to help you make dinner and make it really fun and exciting often works really well! Praise them for there efforts and tell them how wonderful the food tastes because they helped! Give them really “important” jobs like stirring and adding spices. Even the 18 month old can pitch in! Let them name the dish something fun, like Mickey Mouse Chicken or whatever they like. Make it super fun and exciting and then pay no attention if they do not like something, just move on with dinner and before you know it they will be eating. Also, if you get rid of all the non paleo foods to fall back on if they do complain, they will end up choosing something you want them to eat in the long run. Good luck my dear!

  2. Jen Sanchez says:

    Love this post!! I worked with Dena and what she is able to provide for the women of our area is AMAZING! Having a cesarean was my biggest concern when I found out I was having twins. Not so much fear of the cesarean itself, but of the path it would make for future pregnancies. (However, after twins who has the energy for another pregnancy??). So glad you found her and that you’re spreading the word!

    1. pensguys says:

      Love the post. I had a similar situation…first baby born via c/s because of him being transverse, and then had second baby @ home with midwife.

  3. Sara, the more I read about you, the more I like you. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us.

    1. Thank you!! : )

  4. Stephanie Russell says:

    My last daughter was born at home with a midwife and doula. Mostly, it was just my husband and I. I couldn’t recommend anything better! It was so incredible, empowering, romantic, my oldest daughter was 12 it was deeply personal to her. She is now 19 and still speaks of it with joy.
    It is my deepest wish that women can put aside fear and understand how ABLE they really are!
    Kudos to you Sarah and to others for pursuing VBAC and especially home birth!
    I never had a C section but I had many difficulties during that pregnancy, was always fighting to be able to home deliver and I was in awful shape when I went into labor but I could still do it with roaring strength because that is how we are made. Women forget how strong they are. 🙂

    1. I too was in awful shape when I delivered Rowan and getting through that experience with such incredible unknown strength totally prepared me mentally for the work it took to get back into shape!

  5. Thanks for sharing! I am expecting our fourth now, due in July. Our first two were natural births and our third was emergency c-section because of undetected placenta previa and hemorrhage… scary stuff. Anyway, hoping for a v-bac this time. I’d love to have her at home, but midwives in my state are now allowed to do a first v-bac at home, though I’ll be ok to have future babies at home if this v-bac is successful.
    Fortunately, I did find a great group of nurse midwives who deliver in a hospital and have a 90% v-bac rate, which is almost unheard of!
    Thanks for the post… it is so nice to see more women choose the natural route!

    1. Best of luck to you Katie!! The beautiful thing about having babies is that wherever or however they end up being born, you still have that precious baby… : )

  6. roselle fryberg says:

    I live on the reservations n have witnessed tons n tons of hospital births and they were all so stressful and scary…. I didn’t want to go down that path….
    I’ve had 3 home births n they were all awesome!

  7. roselle fryberg says:

    Ps I feel that every woman should watch the business of being born

  8. Veronica says:

    Did I forget or did I not know that Rowan was born at home? Shianne was a homebirth baby too, waterbirth actually. Best thing I ever did. I wish I had done it with all four of them!

    1. I don’t know if I have ever told you!! I too wish I could have had the other ones at home but the way those pregnancies went, I couldn’t have so I’m just glad they all are healthy but the homebirth experience was a good note to end on!

  9. You are seriously my hero! Though I didn’t have a homebirth (my husband wouldn’t entertain the idea, even AFTER watching “The Business of Being Born” and agreeing that home is the safest place to be as compared to a hospital), being able to deliver my son naturally was the BEST thing I could have ever done for the both of us.

    I agree with you about the hospitals in San Jose (because I live here) and it was really difficult trying to find a midwife who worked out of a hospital, especially after we had a pre-term labor scare. It’s really unfortunate that none of the hospitals here support VBACs though, but hopefully that will change. 🙂

    1. I hope things change too because I totally understand the comfort of having a baby in the hospital, homebirth might not be for everyone but having a choice as to how we deliver our babies should not have to be something we have to fight for!

  10. While homebirth may indeed be amazing, there is a documented 15-20 times greater rate of asphyxia and death in home-born babies. Hospital transfer is not the panacea it is held up to be, as some obstetric emergencies give only minutes to resolve, and many many midwives accept for homebirthing cases which fall far off the risk spectrum for homebirth.

    It is quite possible, despite the rhetoric, to have a peaceful birth in the hospital. If you choose homebirthing, please remember that while birth is natural, so is death…and the death or injury of you and your babe is not insignificant.

    1. I agree. I had my sons through two emergency C-sections – both after relatively normal labours. One was suffocating from a cord around his neck and one was posterior and unable to drop into the birth canal (his heart rate dropped from 160-40 over a few minutes). With my second his life hung in a matter of 10 minutes or less – I applaud those who have home births but I would never risk my child’s life so I could feel like I was a ‘real’ woman doing it on my own.

      1. Hi Caren and Lisa,
        You are correct, homebirth is not for everyone but can be a wonderful option for many. I also agree with you Caren and have personally witnessed very peaceful hospital births, including the birth of my own son, Jaden. My point of this post is that we as women have many options that some of us are not aware of and I am also saddened for folks who want to have a hospital birth but often do not have a choice as to how they want to birth their own babies because of hospital politics. Bringing awareness to the situation is a wonderful step in the right direction because when we are armed with information we are more likely to be able to help make positive changes in the world. I certainly do not feel like I am more of a real woman for having a child at home compared to women who don’t. I instead want to honor and cherish the process of birth no matter where or how it occurs and share useful information with those who might be interested. : )

        1. I just wanted to add that it is a serious issue that more women do not know about the choices of birthing that are available to them, and I strongly feel that lobbyists such as the AMA are behind that. I’ve had plenty of friends who’ve tried for a VBAC with their second (and were “okay-ed” by their OB) only to have paperwork the size of Mt Everest confronting them the moment they step inside the hospital, all of which are marked with the word “Death” rather prominently. Even in my case where I only had a preterm labor scare, I would’ve signed just about anything the docs and nurses put in front of my face as I was trying to labor the remaining 2cm (fortunately, my doula and my husband helped me with that and had me sign only the documents that I really needed to sign). It is unfortunate that there’s that paperwork up the yin-yang that one has to sign so that the hospital and its staff won’t be liable should anything go wrong. However, a regular gal wouldn’t have known what to expect with that had she not done prior research into the matter either and may have truly felt that her and/or her infant’s lives may be in serious danger and must therefore consent to having a C-section.

          I’m a firm believer that medical intervention is awesome but only when truly necessary (as in Caren’s case), which is why birthing in a hospital is also extremely important. But I definitely don’t agree with the politics of forcing midwives out of the hospital (such as was almost the case with the midwives operating out of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View), which is why so many who choose to birth with a midwife end up also choosing a home birth.

          And one last thing (sorry, I know this is getting to be super long!) is that we’re starting to hear more and more stories of women free-birthing. This, I feel, is significantly more dangerous than a home-birth with a midwife, but most of these women who free-birth do so for pretty much the same reason: disgust/dismay with doctors and even midwives (particularly if the midwife refuses to accept their case for any particular reason). What women really need is a good forum that allows for equal time between ALL birthing methods to let them know that there ARE options out there. And even if what they ultimately want is a C-section, at least they’ll have been better informed about the procedure, what’s involved, why it’s necessary, what to expect, blah blah blah. It’s really sad and disheartening when you see the mounting frustrations with women over a big issue such as how they want to birth, all stemming from a lack of good information.

          1. Sarah says:


          2. lisa says:

            In many cases, the hospital’s refusal to allow VBAC is insurance-driven: the fact exists that women who have made choices which resulted in death or injury to their baby, and given written consent for those cases, retracted that consent when things went south and the courts deemed it appropriate—i.e., they weren’t capable of understanding the risk. As a care provider assumes all the risk if something goes wrong, despite your written and verbally stated wishes to the contrary, they do have the right to provide care they consider substandard.

        2. Here in San Antonio there are midwives who’s office is right next door to the hospital, so minutes from the emergency room. My sister-in-law is having her child there, she’s due pretty soon.

          I wouldn’t do a home birth, nor would I suggest it to anyone. Too many things can go wrong, placenta previa, hemorrhage, placental abruption where you can bleed to death even in the best of circumstances, etc. I’m all for midwives and such, but next door to the hospital is about as far as I’d want to be IMHO.

          1. Geeklet says:

            That is really, really awesome. I feel like it would be ideal to have birthing facilities which are staffed mostly by midwives and trained nurses, with a doctor or few on staff “just in case”, and to fill in if needed.

        3. Sarah – you’ve nailed it…to ‘honour and cherish the process of birth no matter where or how it occurs’…that is the point. I did struggle with the fact that I never have actually given birth, an event I have been dreaming about since I was a child. I do, however, like having healthy boys. And I feel that I must mention it was my incredible doula who alerted the doctor when my son’s heart rate plummeted…having a doula/midwife in the hospital is an amazing experience…and, in some cases, a life-saving one.

          1. Sarah Powers says:

            Wow there are so many different options out there and I think that is what makes our world go round. After reading so many of your comments I decided to leave one with a short glimpse into my history.
            Unlike most of you my first birth was a home birth. The journey through the pregnancy was wonderful, so much peace being in my own home and visiting with my midwife. Not just another person in a waiting room, rushed into an office, measured and sent on her way. I really could not have asked for a better experience until…labor. All was going great, it felt wonderful to be able to move around and listen to what my body was saying.
            This I guess is when it all feel apart, after pushing for a couple hours my midwife got concerned, my baby was stuck. Within a matter of minutes it was to late and my son died.
            I am not saying no one should have a home birth, just wanted to add another side to the story. Did I feel like a ‘real women’ for having my baby at home? Not even for a second when I had no baby to hold. My next two children where delivered via c-section and as one woman said ” I do, however, like having heathly boys”. Yes recovery was harder with a c-section but I refuse to feel like a failure as a woman because my body at 5’2″ could not deliver boys 10lb+.
            The birthing process is just the beginning, what really matters is how we love and cherish our babies after they are born.

          2. Sarah says:

            Hi Sarah,
            I am so sorry for your loss and thank you so much for sharing your story, and you are right, I think it’s important that we hear all sides to every story. Hugs to you.

  11. What a wonderful post! My first born was c-section due to breach. I was lucky enough to have a Dr. who believed in natural births and I was able to deliver my second via VBAC (that was 8 years ago). When I was pregnant with my third, my Dr. retired. I spent weeks calling every Dr. within a 50 mile radius trying to find a Dr. and a hospital that would allow me to have a VBAC. Countless phone calls were made and I was turned down by every single one. Fortunately thru word of mouth I found a Dr who would allow me to deliver VBAC. It was a positive experience as I delivered my son the way I wanted, but in retrospect, I wish I would have examined mid-wifes or finding a birthing center more thoroughly. It seems they are hard to come by!

  12. Buttercup says:

    I live just a bit north of you Chico folks in Southern Oregon, and feel very fortunate to have been able to have an unmedicated waterbirth in a hospital that didn’t feel too much like a hospital. My doctor is respectful and encouraging of this route, but had the experience in case of emergency should it be required. I found it to be an awesome and supportive balance.
    I agree, I wish women knew more about what they were capable of and explored their options rather than accepting the fear and drama that often surrounds childbirth. If being Paleo brings more women to natural birth options, I’m all for it!

  13. Caitlin says:

    This post is very cool Sarah!

    It got me really excited, so just warning this is a along comment with lots of questions. Plz let me know if there’s a better place/way to ask a whole bunch of stuff.

    I did doula training last April & doula’d for my sister-in-law this last July.
    She had her son in our local hospital’s home birth wing & a nurse midwife delivered him. It was amazing!

    I haven’t had any children and there’s no (grain-free) buns in the oven yet but I do plan on starting a family in the next 5 years. Since going paleo I’ve wondered what it will be like to be pregnant & breastfeeding & eating paleo.

    I’d love to hear more about what it was like breastfeeding Rowan. What did you do differently (if anything) while breastfeeding him? Did you stay away from certain foods like garlic/onions/cruciferous/spicy? Did you eat larger portions and more often? Did you eat more yams, fruit, plantains, starchy veggies?

    I heard you mention in one of your podcasts that you had no trouble producing enough milk for any of your babies. What diet recommendations would you make to a paleo mom who is having trouble?

    Also what foods did you start Rowan on?

    I ran across this interview with a Stanford pediatrician the other day:

    He says feeding a spoonful of white rice cereal to your baby is the same as feeding them a spoonful of sugar. I was pleasantly surprised to see this on ABC News!
    What he recommends is blended veggies & fruit & brown rice cereal. Eliminate the cereal and it sounds pretty good 🙂

    Thanks for all the work you put into this blog Sarah! I’ve got my copy of your cookbook ordered 😉

    1. I was not eating paleo while I was pregnant but sure do wish I would have been! I started eating paleo about 4 months after Rowan was born. I ate paleo foods when I was hungry, started adding more fat to my diet when I noticed I was losing weight, ate plenty of protein, lots of veggies and healthy fats, and fruit that was in season. Most mom’s who are not producing enough milk are not nursing often enough or nursing on demand, are not drinking enough water, are under tons of stress, or aren’t eating enough, or over-doing it. The biggest factor of a diminished milk supply is not nursing on demand or nursing often enough. I started rowan on avocado, sweet potatoes, and bananas. A great resource for paleo pregnancy, babies, and such is

      1. Caitlin says:

        Thanks sarah.

        1. I feel so much happier now I unerdastnd all this. Thanks!

  14. I love reading posts like these. Not ready for a child yet but really looking forward to when I am and am doing some homework now! I’m so intrigued by home birth and feel its right for me already.

    Thanks for your insight.


  15. thrilled to hear about other VBACs out there….I’ve had two at Overlake Hospitial in Bellevue, WA greatest thing ever! Love your postings! I am from Richvale CA close to Chico….so it’s fun to hear about “little old Chico”!

  16. I love this idea. Although we could have easily brought both of our boys into the world at home my hubby is a paramedic and I compromised by having an in hospital natural birth and I was very blessed that both were sucessful in everything I had wanted. It is so nice to hear of others who have had positive natural home birth experiences by choice and not scared away by doctors who rush to c-section instead of working with the mother. I’m all for choosing what works for the family and without natural birthing centers here in california we are blessed to have mid-wives like Dena to fulfill those dreams of non-invasive births.

  17. I’m new to your blog. My husband reads it and recommended it to me. I read ‘The Primal Blueprint’ last summer and becoming primal/paleo sounded so right, so my husband and I both tried. I was breastfeeding my Son who was about 15 months. My breastmilk supply didn’t seem to change at all and my son kept on nursing happily and I felt better than ever. I got pregnant again in August and am now 26 weeks pregnant due in May. I wasn’t able to eat primal through out the first part of my pregnancy I felt too sick and bread sounded good. I’m startingto get back into it now that I can stomach meat and everything now. But I am ALWAYS hungry! I try and eat potatoes and stuff but sometimes I have to have a waffle or something because i can’t get full. Has anyone else had this experience? And what do you so about it?
    How exciting about the homebirth! I am also having a homebirth after a hospital birth. I had a mostly good experience in the hospital but always was inclined to have a homebirth. I’m so excited to labor in the comfort of my own home. Cant wait to hear your labor story!!

    1. Hi Cassie, it sounds to me like you really need to up your fat intake! Try eating more avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, coconut milk, etc. during your meals and also make sure you are eating plenty of protein at every meal and snack. Every snack make sure it includes protein and fat not just carbs. Let me know how things go!!

  18. Kristi says:

    Hi Cassie, I agree with Sarah that you should try to increase your fat intake with each meal. I’m 23 weeks along with my second baby and have felt the best when I eat avocado, coconut oil, olives and olive oil with my meals.

    My first trimester was horrible as far as nutrition goes (the only thing I could keep down was saltines – yuck!) but I have been back on the Paleo track since week 14.

    I did not eat Paleo at all during my first pregnancy and feel so much better this time around! I don’t have any crazy cravings, swelling or back pain like I did with my first pregnancy.

    Best of luck with your pregnancy!

  19. Hi Sarah! I’ve been following your blog since last spring when my CF friend turned me onto this. You are influencing so many and I think it’s wonderful you are sharing about your midwife friend and your own birth experiences. I gave birth to my one and only child about two years ago at a free-standing birth center with midwives & an amazing doula and it was to date, perhaps the BEST and most empowering day of my life. I’ve seriously never felt more like a champ than I did then. Okay, making it to state in high school in the 4×800 m relay is close too!
    Anyway, I love your blog and your recipes and that you are sharing with even more women that not only is paleo possible, but so is finding the birthing plan you REALLY want! Go you!

    1. Thank you Megan!! : )

  20. Sarah, I commented a About a day after I read this and just spaced it that you had already had your baby lol- I blame pregnancy brain. Anyway, thanks for sharing!
    Thanks for the advice about more fat. I’m trying my best to eat to eat more fat

  21. Erin Solomon-Hegarty says:

    I am a nurse in Denver, Colorado and Dena Moes delivered my son at home in Chico CA in Decemeber of 2005. I was born at Enloe Hospital and raised in Chico as well. I deliver 2 daughters at Enloe with midwives and one daughter at Feather River Birth Day Place with a midwife as well. All were positive experiences with natural vaginal births. After working as a nurse at Feather River, I realized that even the birth center was not where I wanted to deliver this child. Home was where I wanted to be. Dena and Serra were such a blessing to our family. Truly a gift to make our dream of home birth happen. We knew that there was no where else we wanted to bring our son into the world. Dena and Serra have inspired me to continue with my education to pursue my dream to be a midwife as well.

    1. Thank you for your comment Erin. : )

  22. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you so much for sharing your birth stories with us and congrats on your successful HBAC. That is awesome!

    I think for those who are against homebirth for VBACS it comes down to an education issue. I am a birth doula, childbirth educator and had both my babies at home so I live birth…haha! Once you dive in to the research behind VBAC you start to realize very quickly that it is a very safe option to have a HBAC as long as you are a good candidate (healthy, low risk pregnancy). Just because you have had a prior c-section does not deam you “high risk”. I always say “people don’t know what they don’t know”. If they haven’t done the research alot of the fear of homebirth is driven by media and general mainstream birth talk. I do believe there is a time and place for medical intervention and boy am I thankful that we have these interventions for “emergency” situations.

    I relate homebirth to paleo alot because when I tell someone that I eat Paleo and I explain it they truly feel that I’m some extreme health nut totally taking it “too far”. This is only because they haven’t researched paleo and don’t know enough about it to realize all the benefits and why it make such great sense. Same goes with homebirth.

    So congrats again and thanks for sharing your life with us!


    1. Thank you Amanda!! : )

  23. Geraldine says:

    I find it surprising that it is so difficult to find a doctor who will allow you to attempt a VBAC. Where I live (in Alberta, Canada) VBACs are routine. I have 10 children. The first 5 were all vaginal deliveries, and then I had breech twins who were delivered by c-section. When I became pregnant again, there was never even any question about whether or not I would attempt a VBAC; it was assumed as a matter of course. The only stipulation they had was that I would deliver with an obstetrician attending (instead of just a family doctor, as I had for all my other deliveries). I have since had two more VBACs, with a family doctor attending, and I know quite a few other women who have had VBACs as well.

    1. Sarah says:

      Wow, I wish it was that easy here in CA. I literally could not find a doctor here in Chico who would even take me on as a patient knowing that I wanted to have a VBAC…. Crazy but true.

  24. Same experience! First emergency C-section. Second Vbac in a hospital. Third Vbac in a birth center. Then everything changed. I had no choice but to do a homebirth as no one would get near me! Thank goodness I did! Should have done that as soon as I could. Good for you Sarah

  25. Hi! I just found this post — I was looking for information on breastfeeding while pregnant, and found out we used the same midwife! I just VBAC’d at Enloe with Dena as my doula because we live too far away from the hospital for a home birth at our own home (I was sad about that)…
    I just started paleo 5 days ago — my daughter is a little over four months old (also born in October). Hi! You can read Dena’s write up of our story here: 🙂

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