Liz Talks, Episode 40: Home Birth Midwife Lindsey Meehleis

Midwife Lindsey Meehleis stops by to chat “great grandma wisdom,” informed consent, processing birth experiences (including Liz’s), breech birth, birth work, midwifery, and the women’s healthcare experience!

This was SUCH a dense, juicy conversation and I’m forever grateful that Lindsey stopped by to chat. <3 Liz

Liz Talks Episode 40

  • Introducing Lindsey Meehleis [2:22]
  • Liz and Lindsey connection [11:37]
  • Lindsey’s mission [19:08]
  • Learning through C-section [30:09]
  • Moving through life’s dharma [36:41]
  • Nervous system regulation [40:51]
  • Raising a daughter [47:58]

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Liz Talks. I’m Liz, and I’m a nutritional therapy practitioner and best-selling author; but here, I’m 0% professional and 100% mom, spouse, friend, and over-analyzer. We’re going to talk food, beauty, family, fitness, mental health, friendship, marriage, and everything in between in this season of Liz Talks, and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride.

Remember; this is a podcast about thoughts, feelings, and opinions. And I definitely do not give individual, personal, or medical advice. 

This is episode 40, topic: Interview with Lindsey Meehleis; homebirth midwife and women’s health advocate. 

In case you missed it, last weeks’ episode 39 was a Q&A with yours truly covering topics like European sunscreen, getting up early to workout, and transitioning from one to two kids. 

Before I begin today, I want to thank Arrowhead Mills, as always, because they sponsor this podcast. Podcasting is a labor of love and it takes time and sweat equity. To have a company put their faith in my work, and effect to support my small business, is lifechanging. Arrowhead Mills was focused on sustainable farming long before it was cool, and their range of products from cereals; yes, cereals, to corn meal, to premade gluten free pancake mixes are a choice I feel really good about for my family.

So, next time you go to the store, look for Arrowhead Mills products. You can also find them on Vitacost.com. 

I also want to remind you about an affiliate that I absolutely love, and that’s Vibrant Body Company. There’s a reason I keep talking about it. Please, please, please do not keep wearing a bra that is uncomfortable and restrictive and awful. Go to Www.RealFoodLiz.com/Vibrant, and use cod LIZ15, all caps, for 15% off their amazingly comfortable, no wire, certified clean bra; their shelfy tank, which I love; and their super comfortable underwear, including their thong. Which is my favorite thong of all time. And you know; I am team thong. www.RealFoodLiz.com/Vibrant

Even if you think you’re good with what you’ve got; and trust me, I did too. I was all sports bras all the time. Even those super soft ones from Lulu Lemon. Which are still nowhere near as comfortable and functional as the Vibrant Body bra. I am fully converted, and I believe you will be, too. 

  • Introducing Lindsey Meehleis [2:22]

Today’s podcast is an interview with Lindsey Meehleis. And I wanted to bring Lindsey on for many reasons. Not the least of which is that she has been uniquely impactful to me, personally, as I continue to process my second birth. And I share some parts of my second birth that I have not shared yet anywhere in this podcast.

it’s so interesting; because it took me such a long time to open up about my first birth. But I feel like with the second kid, everything is just on this accelerated timeline. So I have followed Lindsey’s Instagram for quite some time. And it has challenged me. It’s brought up so many questions and thoughts. And it’s comforted me as well. And to say this of an Instagram account is; that’s ideal. Right? That’s the GOAT. That’s the thing that you actually want to get out of social media. And it’s rare that an account does that. But it’s so powerful.

And I talk more about how I actually connected with Lindsey one-on-one during this episode; but she’s just so gracious. So loving. So full of wisdom. And I’m so excited to talk to her. 

So here’s more about Lindsey. Lindsey is a mom and traditional spiritual midwife. Oh my gosh; that phrase gives me chills! It’s just so beautiful. Who has been serving childbearing women through birth, lactation, and emotionally through trauma release work since 2004. She works in Southern California, and has had the pure honor of witnesses over 1300 births. 

And I love how she says “witnessing” rather than delivering 1300 babies. Because we all know it’s the mom’s that deliver the babies; the midwife witnesses them. 

She believes that great-grandma wisdom is one of the most essential rememeberings to tap into during each rite of passage that we weave through as women in our lifetimes. So for the women listening; I love to have you listen to this podcast, no matter where you are in your journey personally, reproductively, or as a parent. This stuff is relevant no matter what. And I hope you connect with Lindsey as much as I do. 

Liz Wolfe: Do you do a lot of podcasts? 

Lindsey Meehleis: I’m starting to do a lot more. All I do is talk normally in life, so. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Lindsey Meehleis: So recording it just makes it more fun. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: I mean, it’s like; why not? If you’re going to be having juicy conversations with people. Why not do it in a scalable way so everybody can benefit? 

Lindsey Meehleis: It’s so true! And you’ve been doing podcasting forever.

Liz Wolfe: It seems like forever. We did; I did one for like 8 years. And then it was a great podcast. We had millions and millions of downloads. I just did it because I wanted to do it. I never thought about it in terms of numbers or success or not success. And I don’t know. I think that’s kind of the way you approach things. Is just; you know. Do it because you want to do it authentically. Hopefully it hits.

So this podcast I started like 6 or 7 months ago, just feeling like I was ready to come back. Because I really; maybe you’ll understand this just as sort of the spiritual person you are. I don’t know; I just felt like I needed to turn inward for like 2 years. And this was before everything just exploded with pandemic. And I was pregnant .and I was like; I need to back away just for my spiritual wellbeing. So I was just turning inward for probably a year or two. But then, you know, there was a time. I was ready to come back.

Lindsey Meehleis: There’s so much beauty in that retreat. It’s like the chrysalis, right? You’re like in this deep chrysalis where you’re repairing, and everything is kind of coming back online. And you’re nursing your soul. And then all of a sudden, you’re like; nope. Here’s my wings. I’m ready. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah! That’s such a good analogy. I think it was; oh man. So you have been the source of several epiphanies, before I ever even reached out. And was like; hi! 

Lindsey Meehleis: Love that! 

Liz Wolfe: I have a thing to say. But even just now; that totally blew my mind. And I never connected it. But it took us 5 years to even decide to try to have a second baby. And just that process. Not only with what was going on in the world, but just what was going on in my head with the fact that we were actually doing it. Probably required a pretty fundamental; just realignment that I couldn’t do if a lot of my energy was going outward. 

Lindsey Meehleis: Nu-huh. Nu-huh. It’s that yin side of your brain, right? It’s where we go to this inward space. I mean, it’s unrealistic. But I always say; pregnant women probably shouldn’t even be driving cars. Not because they don’t have the capability to. I mean, driving cars is like face paced, and there’s danger around any turn. And there are all these different things that can happen. And we’re supposed to be so yin, and so internal, and creating this baby. Creating this life. 

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Lindsey Meehleis: I mean, it’s modern day. Right? 

Liz Wolfe: Yes. 

Lindsey Meehleis: We were never in those situations, but now all of a sudden our primal brains have to deal with those situations. So it’s just an interesting thing. But if we get intuitive with ourselves, we know, and we’re able to. Well, not always, but most of the time we can kind of listen to those internal callings and retreat back. It’s a beautiful thing when we do listen to those. 

I feel like for a long time, there was such a culture around hustle. You know; boss up, and hustle, and all this. And it’s like; no, no, no, no. That’s actually not where women do the best work. And we have to look at this menstrual cycle, and this moon cycle, and this gestation cycle and bring it back to the ebb and flow. Just like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Instead of just pushing and hustling and driving forward so much. That’s just not how women’s bodies are designed.

Liz Wolfe: Oh, I love that. So I have a workout program. And I don’t like the word targeted; catered. It’s catered towards moms, like me. And one of the discussions that we’ve had that has been really interesting as executives in charge of it is; how do we communicate to women that we’re not just; this is a funny word to use. But it’s not just about wellbeing, and taking care of your physical body, and all of that through movement is not just about the contraction. People are like; you workout during pregnant. And you’re contracting your muscles. And you’re lifting and you’re bracing and you’re moving and you’re doing all that hard stuff.

But you have to complement that with the release. You have to be just as good with the letting go and the release as with the contraction and the pulling and all of that. And I think that was really missing for me; probably in both of my births. But the second one in particular. Which was a home birth, after C-section. That was really, really tough for me. And it was such a lesson. And everything that I’ve done professionally has been the source of; hey, you probably could have figured this out just by basic reasoning and deduction. But we’re just going to let you experience it. Because this is how it’s going to stick. And that was definitely one of those moments. {laughs} 

Lindsey Meehleis: Yeah. It’s part of your sacred contract. You know; that’s what we go through this life with big lessons that weave into our sacred contract with everything; and things that we don’t even know are connected. Like; something that happened during your birth could affect something that happens when you’re 70 and you won’t know until you’re there.

Or, maybe never even make that connection. But you’ll have that foundation built for it. So it’s something that’s just; once we surrender to basically the notion that we don’t have much control. Yes, we can control certain things. But on the grand scheme of life, there’s really not a whole hell of a lot that we can control.

Liz Wolfe: That’s so true. 

Lindsey Meehleis: And so, I feel you! I don’t know if you know my birth story at all. But I had a cesarean with my daughter. So, you know, just was kind of plowed over by a medical intervention and cascade of intervention. And ended up with a C-section. Didn’t get past 2 cm from a really pretty hard induction. And I looked at both my mom and my mother-in-law, who had had C-sections, and went; what do I do? And they both said; oh, get a C-section. That’s no big deal.

And I felt like I was robbed. And I was 22 when I had my daughter. And I felt like I left that experience as a 22-year-old thinking there was something that was innately taken away from me, and I couldn’t really place what it was. And it took me 6 years in order to move forward and have a baby again. So I feel you.

Liz Wolfe: Wow. Oh my gosh, yeah. 

Lindsey Meehleis: That process of; do I even want to do this again? And have I done the work to clear out what happened to me in order to move into that next experience? And it’s a really big commitment. Once you’ve had a baby and you know what it’s like and you know what that experience can be like with the birth, you’re like; ok. Well, I guess this is what I’m up against, and if I don’t make the decisions to change something, then I’m going to end up in the same situation again.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Lindsey Meehleis: Yeah. I feel you on that timeframe. And some people do it quick, and some people take longer. 

  • Liz and Lindsey connection [11:37]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. It’s funny, too. Thinking about; well. Ok, so for folks who {laughs} we are just; Lindsey and I are just now connecting verbally in an actual one-on-one conversation. I’ll have to go back.

I reached out to you; and I could share this in the opening that I’m going to record later. But I’m going to share it now, because I want to share it with you.

Lindsey Meehleis: Yes. 

Liz Wolfe: So I have been following Lindsey and her Instagram account for a long time. It’s beautiful. I mean; it shakes me sometimes. I’ll be honest. There are a lot of emotions around birth that I still move through and people that have been with me for a long time know all about that. 

But I connected with Lindsey because she so graciously and kindly responded to a completely random direct message that I sent regarding a post that she put up on Instagram. And I can’t even remember exactly what it was. But I sent you a message where I was like; hey. I’m still kind of processing all of this. Oh, it was your post about short cords. 

Lindsey Meehleis: Mm-hmm. It was about how there can be an abnormal labor pattern, and how we typically see this prodromal pattern, and that’s the placenta actually moving down the uterus with the baby and that’s what can happen if we have these short cords. And you said to me; I had my cord snap.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Which is like; I couldn’t. I was processing it. Processing it for the longest time. Just kind of in this stall around it. And it was the same thing with my C-section; it took me a long time to just process through that and feel like I was ready to talk about it. I didn’t talk about it for a really long time. Even though I had a weekly podcast.

So this whole thing about the cord snapping; for some reason I haven’t been able to talk to my previous midwives about it. And I haven’t felt like sharing about it publicly. But then I sent that message to you, because your post was so helpful. And you wrote back to me, and you just gave me so much clarity. You gave me the compassion I needed in responding in the first place. You gave me some clarity in saying; what did you say? It was something you had seen a couple of times before. And I was so sad that I didn’t get to do delayed cord clamping, because that was one of the reasons I was so excited about doing a home birth. 

And you said that you had seen it before. And typically; what did you say about the delayed cord clamping? I’ll recount it improperly.

Lindsey Meehleis: Yeah. So, typically what happens when you have these short cords that can break right at birth. They snap at birth, I should really say. Since the cord is so short, it gets stretched out so much, there isn’t that; I’m going to kind of give the physiological experience of baby going through the birth canal.

So when baby comes down through the birth canal, they’re getting squeezed. So as their bodies are getting squeezed, a lot of the blood shunts back up through the cord and into the placenta. So, there are different places that will say different things. Sometimes you read anywhere from 25% of their blood up to 50% of their blood is in the cord and placenta once they’re born. Once they’re born, the cord continues to pulsate. And as that cord continues to pulsate, then they get back what their normal blood volume was. Like, that’s supposed to be part of their circulatory system. 

And, when we have the cords cut right away, then basically they’re born in a physiological state of shock and anemic. And we see it quite often. We take our babies to the pediatrician, they test for anemia, and everybody wonders; why the heck is my baby anemic? Well, that’s your first answer right there.

So what I see in the few experiences I’ve had with these short cords that actually snap is that they’re not; they’re so stretched that there’s not that blood that’s communicating back and forth. And the cords are basically white right at birth. And that means that all of that blood has gone back to the baby. And I don’t see these big juicy placentas that you would think would be full and the cord; all the veins inside of that are full. They look like they’ve drained into the baby. And as baby emerges, and comes out, and the cord snaps, they’ve gotten all of their physiological blood supply in them in that moment.

So it goes back to the notion that in most cases; not always, but in most cases, the way that we give birth in a normal physiological process, it’s intended for survival. Right? If we were in a cave. If we were great, great, great, great-grandmas and we didn’t really know any of this stuff. If we were pushing our babies out into this world and the cord snapped, they would probably do the same thing that I do. Because it kind of takes you by surprise. Is grab the cord. Hold it with your fingers. And then find something to clamp it off with and then bring baby up to the breast and let the placenta come out. 

I always say it’s the way nature intended. But it truly is the way nature intended. 

Liz Wolfe: I; it’s so strange. Because I feel like we’re still. Well, first of all, you just responding to my message. Like, I actually pictured it like the birth of my baby with the short cord. Where she just; her head came out and she just hung out for a second. {laughs} Because she wasn’t just going to shoot out like some of those videos that you see. But I feel like you shot me out of the birth canal just by responding to my message with that. And I had just {laughs} been like in this holding pattern for the longest time around that. Just not exactly sure who I even wanted to talk about it too, first. 

And that was just so helpful. So thank you so much for that.

Lindsey Meehleis: You are so welcome. 

Liz Wolfe: Amazing.

Lindsey Meehleis: What a blessing; I didn’t think it would have any sort of that response. It was just me kind of saying; hey. This is probably what happened. But I’m so glad that you were able to feel seen and heard and loved in that moment.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. That was just phenomenal. And you just never know. You never know what some kind of simple thing for you might do for another person.

Lindsey Meehleis: Yeah. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I just appreciated that so much. And it really did; it helped. And one of the things that I kind of drew my mind back to was that; the work that you do and the work that people like you; with the same and similar missions as you is to have; or appears to be. And you can correct me if I’m wrong. And share your mission with us after I’m done rambling. 

But creating this safe space for birthing women. And one thing I think is probably still lacking for some women; many women across certain communities, is we have a little bit of what we need but not all of it. So I feel like I had a little bit of what I needed in my midwifery care. But that were not to a point yet; at least where I am, or the resources that I have, where there’s this cocoon. Like you were talking about before. Like a cocoon around me where I had those perfect presences all around me to make me feel informed. Which is one of my top values. I want to feel like I know what I need to know. And if I don’t know something, I will know who to go to.

So there’s that. And I had a midwife; or two midwives. I had an OB, as well, who was wonderful. I had a doula who was wonderful. But for some reason, I still didn’t feel like there was anybody I could go to about this question. And it’s not any of their faults. It’s just; we’re still building this structure around women. Or around the birthing world. And your just such a huge part of that work. 

  • Lindsey’s mission [19:08]

Liz Wolfe: So can you tell me a little bit more about your mission and how you’re trying to structure this for women? 

Lindsey Meehleis: Yeah. I mean, what you said about community is so important and essential. Because for all of time, we sat around the fire with our aunties and our sisters and our grandmas and we all heard stories about how we were born. Important things in life. We talked about breastfeeding and menstruation and what it is to cook food around a fire together. All of that love going into the food. We don’t have those rituals anymore in our daily lives. 

So, when we miss out on those rituals, we really come back in this space of; what wondering. What if’s. And I don’t know if this person is going to be the safe person for this. It leaves us in an ungrounded space.

So something that is really important for me throughout my prenatal care is the prenatal experience of community. So I share an office with a chiropractor. And we have a bustling office. There are kids here. We have a toy room for the kids to play in. And I sometimes think that what’s more important than us measuring the belly and listening to heart tones and doing blood pressure is them actually hearing each other’s stories. 

So, if I have a client that’s due to give birth soon, and I have another client in the other room that’s had a beautiful first birth experience, I’ll invite her into this mom’s prenatal just to tell the story. Not to do anything else. Just have someone present with you, telling you a good story about their own birth. They take what they want with it, but they know that something like that is possible. 

So, when we start to integrate these stories into our being, then we start to have a deeper reverence and trust within our bodies. So I think it moves us through not just the birth, but into parenting. And into postpartum. We do find this tribe of women, if you will. This tribe of community, if you will. That supports us in that way.

So that’s definitely a mission of mine. But it’s interesting, because it’s such a micro thing. I’m just in this small little city in Orange County. So I’m really trying to branch into the more macrocosm. Where I can start connecting more and more women together. And tapping back into that great-grandma wisdom. The deep remembering of who we are as women. Of who we came from. Of where our tradition and our power goes after that birth experience. After that mothering experience. Mothering stays with you forever, but you know. With raising little ones into young adults, and into adults. Where do we take that with us? And how it’s passed down. It’s this legacy, if you will.

So that’s a really important piece to me. And I think the other part that’s drastically missing from western medicine is autonomy. Radical autonomy. Sovereignty of your body. And realizing that nobody else is in charge of you. Yes, I am a midwife. And yes, I journey with women all the time. But the thing that really is most important is that a woman’s intuition is honored above and beyond anything else. So all of my clients will attest to this. If I get a text message saying; something, something is wrong. My first question back is; what does your intuition say? 

And then I’ll give my medical experience and my medical knowledge of different suggestions of things that they can do in regards to whatever it is that they’re asking me about. But I always start with that question first. Because if we are taught; because it’s been taken out of our culture. Right? We have never really been taught that we are our own self-healers. We have always been taught that we go somewhere for somebody to tell us what’s wrong. 

It starts with well baby visits in pediatrics. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it. But for somebody to go into a doctor’s office, for the doctor to tell us that our baby is well. When that doctor sees that baby once every two months. Who is the expert on that baby? The mama is. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Lindsey Meehleis: I feel like if there is one thing that somebody can take out of the midwifery experience, it’s that they know that they are the experts of their body. They are the experts of their children. And while, yes of course, please consult with medical professionals. But remembering that they know deep down inside if A) something is wrong. If B) something needs to be done about it. And if C) how to navigate through the system if something needs to be done with it.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. So one of the things I love to do is consult with experts. That’s kind of why I love the podcast thing; because I can bring experts on and actually ask them my questions. And I feel like if we could get back to that place where we are in partnership with experts. And the experts are also aware that they are in partnership with us. 

So, as you were saying. Your gut tells you something is wrong. And you call in the expertise of someone who you know is trained. And then you reflect their expertise off of what you already know and what feels right. And that’s called informed decision making. It’s not coercive. It does not lack informed consent. 

And it’s the same with epidurals. It’s the same as where you choose to give birth. Any decision somebody makes, I support provided it is made with full consent and that partnership with a healthcare provider versus just; I am so afraid of getting a shot. I’m so afraid of not getting a shot. Whatever it might be. Operating from a place of fear is always going to complicate and muddy the waters. 

And we can; if we can center ourselves around that sense of agency. That sense of; I’m going to gather all the expertise I possibly can and I’m also going to put it up against my intuition, common sense. What I’m seeing around me. What I can tangibly see and feel and not what I’m reading in my news app or whatever it might be. Then we can make sound decisions from a place of calm. We can still be afraid of something, but to be in fight or flight and to make any decision is always going to add layer upon layer of difficulty.

Lindsey Meehleis: Yes. Beautifully said. I love that. There’s a really good quote; and I’m not going to say it exactly right. But it was from the founder of an Instagram account called Birth Without Fear. And she basically said; I don’t care if you schedule your C-section or give birth in the woods next to a baby deer. As long as you’re making informed decisions throughout your process and you feel love, seen, and heard, then that’s the most important thing for anybody. 

Liz Wolfe: Yes! 

Lindsey Meehleis: And it goes across the board. Right? It doesn’t matter what you do. If that is right for you, amazing. Make that decision. If that’s wrong for me; amazing. I know that’s wrong for me. And it’s not clumping everybody into this group of health care. It’s making individualized health care a priority. Which is definitely not the forefront of where we’re at right now. But it needs to come back to really taking intermittent consideration that each person is an individual.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. This theme; it’s so funny, has run through several of my recent podcast interviews. I interviewed just a friend of mine, and before that I interviewed a doula named Elizabeth Joy Presta. She’s out of Chicago. And we were talking about how these things; these changes that we want are not coming from the top down. They’re not coming from the AAP, or the whatever the OB/GYN professional organization is. It’s doulas, and midwives, and influencers, and moms like me who are talking about these things and hopefully. It seems like there’s kind of a ground swell. You know; it’s that grassroots cliché. 

But I don’t think that hospitals are starting to support delayed cord clamping because the AAP said it was the right thing to do. It’s coming from us. 

Lindsey Meehleis: Yeah. It’s consumer driven, always. If there’s enough people that come in and request certain things, then they have to reevaluate and say; first of all, why are people requesting this? And then what does that mean, liability wise, for the hospital? 

So when we look at how hospitals approach these things, it’s really interesting. I always love telling this story. There’s a pretty well-known hospital that’s by me. And they had one of the highest C-section rates in the whole entire United States. And JCAHO, who is the joint accreditation. They basically deal with insurance and what insurance pays for, came in. You know; if JCAHO comes into your hospital, it’s a big deal. 

And, they came in and they said; your C-section rates, your primary C-section rates, are entirely too high. We’re going to pull what insurance will pay for within this hospital. And clearly, if a hospital cannot accept insurance, then it would crush them financially.

So I don’t agree with the way that they did it, because it’s based in shame and not constructive criticism. But they actually took the doctors who had the highest C-section rates and pinned them on the walls. 

Liz Wolfe: Wow! {laughs} 

Lindsey Meehleis: So their colleagues would see who had the highest C-section rates. The nurses would see who had the highest C-section rate. And their whole attempt was to lower the C-section rate. And it worked. But I feel like there’s better ways that we can communicate these things than shaming somebody by putting their names up on a wall.

But, again, we get to this place within healthcare where we see; maybe people are going in and requesting these things. That’s why it’s such a high C-section rate. But we also get to stand back and say; hey. Maybe this isn’t; are we giving them actual informed consent? 

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Lindsey Meehleis: Do they know that the risk of really big significant things go up with having C-sections? And if they continue to have more babies, their risk increases even more? It’s just a concept that we have to look at all parties involved, and any medical procedure that happens has to take some sort of responsibility and accountability. And if it’s something that’s great; that’s benefitting clients, patients, whatever you want to call them; fantastic. But if it’s something that’s presenting risk, then we have to go over all those things, as well. And make sure that we’re across the board giving informed consent and making decisions that are going to serve our clients and patients; not just make life easier by scheduling a C-section.

  • Learning through C-section [30:09]

Liz Wolfe: Do you feel like the fact that you had a C-section gives you a greater sense of compassion? And I ask you this question because it was certainly a foundation-shaking thing for me. Because I had certainly thought, and said, probably, to other people that if you just do everything right, then these things won’t happen to you. If you have this kind of pregnancy care. Or if you opt out of this, whatever it is. Then you’ll have the outcome that you want. It’s actually pretty simple.

And then I find myself in labor at my midwifery clinic being told that the baby is breech and they’ve called the ambulance. {laughs} 

Lindsey Meehleis: Aww! I didn’t know that was the case. 

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Yes. So, and you know. There were a lot of things involved at the time. There was part of me that wanted to prepare for everything, but part of me also felt like; well, either I would know if the baby was breech in the first place. But also that if I turned my mind to it, even to prepare for any eventuality, that that would increase the likelihood of it happening. Which is nonsense. 

But it was just a really interesting experience. And also one that I feel really grateful for. Because; I don’t know. It feels like I couldn’t really speak to a range of experiences if that hadn’t happened.

Lindsey Meehleis: Of course.

Liz Wolfe: So I’ve come to terms with it. It took me a long time. It took me a couple of sessions of intravenous ketamine, some EMDR, and some therapy. {laughs} Actually, I did the ketamine in California, in San Jose, I believe, with Dr. Cook. And that was great.

Lindsey Meehleis: That’s amazing. That’s a fantastic medicine that we definitely need to tap into more.

Liz Wolfe: Oh, it was a phenomenal experience. So do you feel like having had that experience, that you have a greater window into the range of experiences that women have? 

Lindsey Meehleis: I know exactly what you’re asking. And before I speak to that, I want to back up and say something really quick.

Liz Wolfe: Ok.

Lindsey Meehleis: So, you mentioned that you would have known if there was something wrong or baby was breech. And I want to make it very clear that breech is a variation of normal.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. 

Lindsey Meehleis: And you would never think there is anything wrong, because the only thing that’s wrong is a medical establishment that has lost the art 

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Lindsey Meehleis: Of teaching skilled care providers to help women deliver breech babies. So for all of time, we’ve always delivered breech babies with no problems. But what’s happen is we’ve taken this skill out. and if people are not skilled; it’s a tradition. Right? We pass it down through each midwifery generation. Each OB generation. And if we lose that tradition; if we lose that skill, then that’s when breech becomes risky.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Lindsey Meehleis: So your intuition was spot on that everything was fine; because everything was fine in that moment. So I just wanted to say that really quick. Because it felt like there was a little bit of power that was taken away from you.

Liz Wolfe: Oh for sure. 

Lindsey Meehleis: With thinking there was something wrong. 

Liz Wolfe: No. I appreciate that. And that is a wonderful shift in consciousness. And what still kind of rankles me is having never even turned my thoughts to the idea of baby coming out butt first, versus headfirst. I never had a plan for it. Because; I know now that that’s a variation of normal. But what ended up happening was; I’m sitting there, and they’re all looking at me like a deer in headlights. Because they’re surprised. You know? My husband is looking at me like a deer in headlights. The midwives are looking at me like a deer in headlights. The doctor is like; let me tell you the risks. And I’m like; I can’t. I’m in labor. I’m going to have a baby.

So it all falls on me to all of a sudden be the one that’s supposed to advocate for myself. And I have literally no knowledge whatsoever of who to call, what to do. And I wish that I had more knowledge to empower me in that moment. I really do. And I wish; like what you are talking about here, and on your Instagram page, and what; I follow Dr. Stuart Fischbein, talk about is that it’s a variation of normal and it can be done. 

But who is going to do it? 

Lindsey Meehleis: Well, and the problem is it goes up to the legislative level within the state. Back before 2014, midwives who were trained to do breech births were able to do breech births. And in 2014 they wrote the law that took out our breeches and our twins and past 42 weeks. Those were our big three that we lost. 

So, it’s just unfortunate. Because when we have these laws that get set into place, then we lose the skill for it. So you mentioned Dr. Fischbein who is Birthing Instincts on Instagram. And he is a dear friend of mine. And he is making such a huge shift in the perception of what we think is normal. And doing so many teachings. He works with; it’s called reteach breech. And he’s traveling throughout the United States right now teaching different care providers the skill of breech birth. And it’s just incredible that we can have that as an option.

Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, it’s one of those situations where if you don’t have a lot of information, you’re sitting in a place of fear and not knowing.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Yeah. 

Lindsey Meehleis: But if we have this information leading up to it, then we can make really beautiful, informed choices around it. So, yes. Back to your other question. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Yes, yes, yes.

Liz Wolfe: About my own birth experience with having a C-section. I will always say that the most influential birth that I had was my C-section birth. without that birth, I would never be where I am within women’s health care. I would never have; not that I can’t have compassion for something that I haven’t had the experience of. But really knowing what the experience of a C-section is. The recovery of a C-section is. Breastfeeding with a C-section incision. It’s just a different situation. And when you know what it’s like, then you have a whole different level of compassion.

So, I did have this beautiful home birth. My son was born under the stars in our jacuzzi in our backyard. And it was this whole redemptive, full circle moment. But, that C-section birth will always be the one that changed me the most. And I thank my daughter, who is almost 20 now, all the time for sacrificing that experience of her birth so I could have the experience I needed to move into my life’s dharma, if you will.

  • Moving through life’s dharma [36:41]

Liz Wolfe: So tell me about that. Tell me about moving into your life’s dharma after you gave birth via C-section at; what, 22 years old you said? 

Lindsey Meehleis: 22 years old. Yeah. 

Liz Wolfe: And then you’re here. So tell me what happened in between. {laughs} 

Lindsey Meehleis: So I left the experience reeling, and thinking that there has to be a better way than what I experienced. So within a year after her birth, I became a childbirth doula. And my main mission was to save the world. I was going to go, and I was going to help every woman not have the same experience that I did. 

And a lot of people will go into the birth world wanting to be a savior. And as I’ve evolved throughout the years; I’ve been doing births now for close to 19 years. The first question I’ll always say to somebody that says; oh, you have the best job in the whole world! I want to get into birth work! I say; my job is to talk you out of birth work, and your job is to talk me into why your nervous system is regulated enough to do birth work. And you’re also here to talk me into why you’re not going to take on the role of the savior. You’re going to take on the role as empowering women to be the saviors of their own entire experiences. 

And so, had I not experienced the first few years of doula work that I did, trying to be the savior, I would never be in a place of saying that. I got to a place where I felt like I was an accomplice to a crime. I felt like I was sitting in a room. I couldn’t really do anything. If you become a noisy, bossy doula then you get banned from the hospital. So there’s only so much you can say and whisper into women’s ears. But in that moment, they’re in a moment that they’re usually getting threatened with. This is a decision of life or death; if you don’t make this decision your baby might possibly die. And they’re always going to err on the side of making sure that everybody is ok.

So, I said; I can’t do this. I’m not making a difference. I’m still seeing all the same similar outcomes as what I experienced with my own birth. So I went into lactation consulting. So I ran a lactation consultant clinic at a hospital for over 4 to 5 years. And I would walk into the hospital. And every single time, I would walk in, I would look at the board and see; C-section. Induction. You know; go through the board. And I would know all of those people would be in my breastfeeding clinic that day. 

So I did that. It was great, seeing all those beautiful new babes and being with moms, and that really precious, postpartum vulnerable time. But again I was like; I’m not making a difference. I haven’t actually tapped in and realized what the root cause of all of this is. It was letting women take their power back into their own hands with birth. And so right around that same time where I had that epiphany, there was a mentor of mine who called me and said; I’m starting a midwifery school down in San Diego. Which was a good hour and a half drive from me. And we would love for you to be part of our first accredited class. And would you be open to it? 

And it was like, the sky opened. I was like; yes, of course! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! So I committed to that. It was a 3-year experience of driving back and forth, raising a family. I was pregnant during midwifery school. So it was a really big commitment for us to move into that. But I haven’t looked back. 

That was almost 16 years ago that I started that whole process. And I’ve had my own midwifery practice in southern California coming up now for; gosh, 12 or 13 years. I think coming up on 13 years now. And it’s just been this full encompassing progression. I would say that the midwife I was when I started is completely different than the midwife I am now. Yes, because of experience, but also because I have really shifted into regulating my nervous system and making sure that I mirror and model that for my clients as well. That self-autonomy piece and sovereignty piece is a really big piece of my care that’s shifted the way that I practice. So it’s really just stepping back into what I call the remembering of great-grandma wisdom and weaving that throughout the care that I give.

  • Nervous system regulation [40:51]

Liz Wolfe: So what does that look like? If you feel like sharing. The nervous system regulation? 

Lindsey Meehleis: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Lindsey Meehleis: There are so many different ways that we can look at nervous system regulation. I think the most important part is having a solid foundation of women around you that can be the sounding board. Can support you. That you can call at 3 o’clock in the morning and have them take you through a vasovagal reset if needed. Without that foundation, I don’t think that many people could have regulated nervous systems. 

I think it’s a self-prioritization of putting up boundaries. Most people that go into health care in general, really, are helpers. We want to help people. We want to love on people. We want to help people when they need it. But when you’re a helper, it’s hard to set up those boundaries around your own space of making sure that you, yourself, are healthy first. 

So it’s really making sure that you step into a relationship with very clear guidelines of what the expectations are. If it’s an emergency, I’m always here for you. It doesn’t matter what time it is. But if it’s not; please honor the fact that I have a family at home. And if you text me at 6:30 on a Sunday night, the odds are I’m going to be eating dinner with them and I probably won’t respond until the following day when my business hours are. 

So, it’s just kind of moving into that space and knowing that it’s ok to do that within this profession. And it models to them what; them meaning the clients; what they can also do moving into their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. You know? It’s ok to have the foundation of those boundaries that are there that are going to either; A) hinder your experience, or B) set up a really beautiful space for you to feel supported. 

Liz Wolfe: One of the boundaries I think I as a patient should have set with my homebirth midwives was; we shared a disdain for a lot of what was happening birth. Especially where I live in Kansas City, where a lot of things that were happening at the hospitals and all of our conversations were kind of bringing that stress up where it was like; gah, why do they do that? Things are so hard for us. 

Gosh, I’ve been, me personally, I was wronged in this way, or whatever it might be. And I think maybe there’s this; and they’re really, really good people. And they’re doing really good work. And the homebirth midwives in Kansas City I know are amazing. And at the same time, I think all of us who desire a change in the options that we have and the way care is given; I think it’s really easy to get caught up in this upset and this anger and this disdain for the way things are. And to bring yourself down from that I think can be difficult. 

Because when we get together with people who are like minded in that way, it’s really easy just to be like; breech is a variation of normal. You know. They really screwed that up. Or whatever. It wasn’t that intense. But I did find that most of our conversations were around not positive, nurturing, quiet; or at the very least those are not the conversations that stood out to me most. So it could have been my mindset. It could have been a combination of things that we just felt like we were in a sisterhood of people who were trying to do things differently. Whatever it was. 

But one boundary I should have set for myself around all of that was probably, like; this is not productive to my purpose right now. My purpose is to remain calm and prepare and to find my safety and to figure out what’s going to serve me best in this entire process.

And my doula was amazing. I chose well. She was a 3 a.m. girl.

Lindsey Meehleis: I love that.

Liz Wolfe: To a T. She talked me through a lot of things. So that was phenomenal. But, that boundary I think definitely should have been set. 

So when it comes to your mamas; what are some of the things you find yourself needing to do to kind of bring them back to center. 

Lindsey Meehleis: Oh, that’s such a beautiful question. And you know, I know this is an audio only, but I have created an office behind me that feels like home. So they’re not walking into this medical feeling vibe. They’re walking to a vibe that would be like; they’re coming to have coffee with their girlfriend. 

So, while we have a certain type of medical things to check off our list, those things are very miniscule in the sense of what the overall prenatal appointment is. I would say that the majority of the time, I’m more of a therapist than a midwife. And this is a safe space. So I have people that don’t even say a word and walk into this office with tears in their eyes. And they lock eyes with me, and I know they cannot sit any sort of waiting room. And they are taken back immediately. 

And most of the time we don’t even sit in the office. We go straight into the back out the door, and we stick both of our feet in the grass and the dirt outside. And I always have them close their eyes. And that permission given with consent I will always lay a hand on our heart, and have our hearts connected, and we just breathe together for the first part of that appointment. 

So, making sure that they know even starting their appointment in that safe space is what’s most important to me. As things come up; I recently did a pap smear on a woman. Just that alone, I wish people would realize that well women care is so essential to feel safe within their bodies. People always complain about how bad and awful pap smears are. If you do a pap smear with me, there is nobody that will ever say it’s awful. You come into this office, and we breathe first. There’s informed consent of me asking permission to even touch a woman’s body. There’s the breath work that goes into making sure that we’re taking deep breaths down into our womb before we even move any further with the pap smear. There’s just so much to it that can make kind of obnoxious medical procedures loving, centered, gentle. 

I once did a pap smear on an 18-year-old who had just become sexually active. And she was having pain with putting in the speculum. And I took her hand, and I said; you are in control. And I let her move the speculum in the way that she needed to move the speculum in over a 10 minute period of time. She will never have that imprint that was painful. That was hard. She will always have that imprint that; this is how medical care can be. 

So it’s just creating this experience, if you will, that medical care that we’re used to doesn’t need to look the way that we’re used to it looking. We can create a whole different paradigm within that field where medical care is something that’s very personable and very loving. Where most of my clients leave like close family afterwards. After our birth experience together. 

  • Raising a daughter [47:58]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. So, with your daughter. Who, if you care to share. You don’t have to share. But I imagine that you’ve been on a journey with her for many years about teaching her about all of these things. 

So, I have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old. And I really, really hope when it’s time for them to start getting well-women care that I can find someone like you who can show them what is possible from the perspective of caring for themselves, and connecting to their intuition. But also being able to call in experts who can help them get to know maybe parts of their body that they don’t know much about yet. 

So is that part of your mission? Do you ever think about how we educate our daughters around these things? What do you do? What did you do with your daughter? 

Lindsey Meehleis: Absolutely! I mean, to me it’s essential that we have discussions around correct anatomical things. That we discuss cervical mucus. That we discuss our cycles. That we discuss every changing part of their beautiful female bodies. You know, it’s something that is so essential. And I think it goes back probably two or three generations. Maybe prior to that. But there’s such a stigma around, you know, Aunt Flo and the time of the month, and our periods. We have to kind of shame ourselves with it.

Now, we get to step into this connection with our children that we have the conversations around shifting all of those things. I mean, I remember getting my period. My mom wasn’t home. My grandma was downstairs, and it was horrifying! 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Lindsey Meehleis: I had no idea what was going on. I knew it was a thing, but I didn’t know it was going to happen to me or how it was going to happen to me. And when my daughter {laughs} probably much to her dismay at that point in her life. She was in 5th grade. I did something called a “puber-tea” for her whole class.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh! That’s…

Lindsey Meehleis: For all the girls in the class.

Liz Wolfe: Amazing! 

Lindsey Meehleis: All the girls came to our house with their moms. And we made it a traditional blessing way, if you will. We basically had each mom stand up and light a candle and speak to all of the girls about what they loved about being a woman. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. And we also went through our female lineage. So we all introduced ourselves. And you know, the girls giggled the whole time. But the moms; you know, would say their name. Like; I am Lindsey. I am daughter to Cheryl. I am granddaughter to Helen. And I am mother to Dylan and River. 

So to hear those names echoed through; they realized that it’s not just them in this experience. They are experiencing what their grandmothers; their mothers, their great-grandmas had experienced. It made them feel connected in that sense. 

And then I did go into the whole experience of them learning about cervical fluid, and their breasts and all of that. And like I said; much to her dismay. But I feel like it definitely has shifted the woman she has become today. And I love sharing that with young women moving into that stage of their life. And I really wish there was a way we could scale it into something that was really sacred, but not just some random mom’s midwife that you felt lucky enough to be in the class with where you got to have an experience like that. You know? 

Liz Wolfe: Right! Well, maybe that’s a business idea for some time in the future.

Lindsey Meehleis: Right. Yeah. 

Liz Wolfe: I love that. And I do remember really feeling like I had to go to another place when I had my first appointment with a gynecologist. Where I got my first pap smear. Just feeling like I had to just; {inhale} go somewhere else while it was all happening. And I’ve had an OB that is phenomenal. Pretty typical in a lot of ways, but also very soft. Very gentle. Kind of; I’m touching here. I’m touching here. Now, this. And just that was like leaps and bounds better. I mean, you should not have to go dissociate to get a pap smear. 

Lindsey Meehleis: No. Nu-huh. I mean, it’s intimate. Right? We could associate it; not that it’s sexual. But, you know, it’d be the same sort of energy as opening your legs to somebody else. You know?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Lindsey Meehleis: It’s something that we really need to take with deep reverence and care. Because it’s; yes, a medical procedure. But it’s very, very, very, very vulnerable and intimate.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Well I won’t keep you a whole lot longer. But I would love to just hear from you; I mean, I’m still going through all of your content. And just loving everything that you put out into the world. What do you feel like, from your perspective, is your purpose and your mission right now? 

Lindsey Meehleis: Right now I feel like I am really shifting into more of an online place where people can access me. I’m really getting into doing a lot of private consultations with people all over the world in regard to questions that they have. But also into that remembering, that they can come back and be in their power and ask questions to their healthcare providers and, you know, demand that their concerns are heard and get to a place where everybody is on the same page together. 

I feel like if we really step back into us giving women options and education and the ability to consult with experts, everything will shift and change. We’ll have this genre of women that feel like they’re heard and that they’re safe. I just can’t see how that wouldn’t benefit the world in every shape and form.

I also would really like to say that I got into birth work first due to the baby’s experience of birth. Me being a doula in the hospital for so many years, I saw how babies weren’t really even acknowledged. So I feel like that’s another huge mission of mine; is to remind people that babies are so aware and conscious of that experience. And if we can include them in that experience and talk to them throughout the process, that starts their life off right from the bat of feeling in that safe space, as well.

Liz Wolfe: I love that. And you can do that whether you give birth in a hospital, or at home.

Lindsey Meehleis: Yep. Anywhere.

Liz Wolfe: Anywhere you are. Yeah.

Lindsey Meehleis: Exactly.

Liz Wolfe: I love that. Well, we’ve been talking for almost an hour. And I appreciate your time more than I can say. You are a phenomenal human being and everything you’re putting out into the world is just shifting the conversation and shifting the consciousness. I’m grateful that you are here doing that work.

Lindsey Meehleis: Thank you so much for having me on. This was such a beautiful conversation. I’m so glad that you reached out on Instagram and we made that connection. I really appreciate you having me here.

Liz Wolfe: That’s it for episode 40. A big thank you to Arrowhead Mills for making this episode possible. Remember, you can ask me anything by sending me a DM @RealFoodLIz on Instagram. But the best way to ask is to go to www.RealFoodLiz.com/AskLiz. That way, they won’t get lost in my inbox. 

I appreciate you! I’ll see you next week.

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