BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 94 Featuring Brittany Anderson, BIRTHFIT Nashville Regional Director
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Hello, BIRTHFIT community! This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder. Today on the BIRTHFIT podcast, I have Brittany Anderson. Brittany is BIRTHFIT Nashville. She’s the leader, she’s the regional director of all things in BIRTHFIT Nashville. So first of all, go check out Brittany Anderson of BIRTHFIT Nashville if you have not and you’re living in the Nashville area.
Second, a little bit about Brittany before she shares everything. She’s a women’s health nurse practitioner and doula. She is also a CrossFit coach. She’s an integrative health coach and she basically has pre, post-natal, personal training out the wazoo in Nashville and does all things within the motherhood transition. So if you are in the Nashville area and you have not reached out to her, you’re missing our seriously. She’s a wealth of information.
And she’ll share all about her journey, her education, everything, on this podcast. So sit back, enjoy and get to know and love Brittany Anderson as much as do and the rest of the BIRTHFIT tribe does.
Hello, BIRTHFIT. Welcome to the BIRTHFIT podcast officially. This is Dr. Lindsey Matthews and I have a super special guest with me, Brittany Anderson. I was almost going to say something else, but Brittany Anderson of BIRTHFIT Nashville. And you know what I was almost going to say was BIRTHFIT Florida because you’re there. But why don’t you tell people why you’re in Florida.
Brittany: Yeah, okay. So we are here vacationing for kind of our winter break, trying to escape the freezing temperatures in Nashville. And unfortunately, it’s been kind of cold in Florida too, but it’s still a lot better than Nashville right now.
Lindsey: Yeah, awesome. So tell people what you do, who you are and what you do.
Brittany: Okay. Well, I do a lot of things. But basically, I just love working with women as they prepare for this amazing journey into motherhood. And that’s always been something that really called to me. So by training, I’m a women’s health nurse practitioner. So I have a master’s degree in nursing and then specialized in women’s health and went into clinical practice with that.
And kind of even in school, I was always the odd ball out because I just really believed in a more holistic, integrative approach. And yeah, I just really believe there are some things that we can tackle through lifestyle changes and a mindfulness practice. And so while I was in school, I pursued training at the Duke University Center for Integrative Medicine and did some coach training there.
I ended up becoming a doula and falling in love with that. And so the last several years have just been kind of figuring out like how I want to best serve women. And then of course over the last few years, I’ve had two babies of my own and that’s really helped me further like hone in on exactly what it is I want to contribute to this world. So yeah, that’s a little bit about what I do. And of course, I became the regional for BIRTHFIT in Nashville last year. So I’m really excited to head into my second year being a part of BIRTHFIT for 2018.
Lindsey: Awesome. Yeah, you wear many hats. You have many roles. It’s wild.
Brittany: I do. It’s a problem.
Lindsey: So it’s a problem. But they all kind of mesh well together and they support each other. That’s cool. So was there anything that happened in your life that led you to this awareness around lifestyle or how did that come about?
Brittany: Yeah. So in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a little bit of an overachiever, total type A. So I was a college athlete. I got a scholarship to Indiana University to play water polo and decided —
Brittany: Yeah, yeah. And decided in school like I had several different majors before I finally decided what I wanted to do, and I ended up deciding to pursue nursing. And everybody told me not to. All the advisers told me it was impossible to do that on an athlete’s schedule. But if you tell me I can’t do something like that’s the best way to get me to do it because I’m so stubborn.
Brittany: Yeah. So I ended up applying to nursing school and was able to continue to play. And that was obviously a lot of pressure and I ended up developing bulimia. And that was just my way of coping with the stress. And I ended up going to see my primary care doctor when I got home for the summer. And she kind of just looked at me like I’m telling her my story and what’s going on in my life and she’s just looking at me like I have no idea what to do with you. And she kind of just said, “Here’s a prescription for an antidepressant and call me in six weeks and we’ll increase your dose and good luck to you.”
Lindsey: How old were you?
Brittany: I was 21, 22. So I just kind of like — I was so defeated. Like, “Seriously? That’s all you’re going to offer me? My choice is to take a pill?” And so I just felt in that moment like when I get into practice someday, I never want to make a patient feel how you just made me feel, like so powerless, like my only choice is to take this drug.
So I ended up taking it for about a month, six weeks and just didn’t really like it and weaned myself off, never went back to the doctor. And I started kind of looking into mindset and mindfulness. I got into yoga and meditation and just read some really empowering books.
I read the Power of Positivity which totally changed my life. And it kind of just took off from there and I just sort of saw my role as a nurse in a completely different lens at that point, and knew that as I got further into my nursing career that that’s the direction that I wanted to head.
Lindsey: Wow. That’s pretty awesome.
Brittany: Yeah. I’m grateful for that experience.
Lindsey: Yeah, yeah. So how did — you mentioned you were diagnosed with bulimia and you’re a 21, 22 college athlete. How did all that pan out?
Brittany: So when I was officially diagnosed with bulimia, I was not playing anymore. So I took a fifth year to finish nursing school which I think probably contributed a little bit to my — like I’m such a routine oriented person. Like not having my practice schedule everyday and my teammates around me probably didn’t help. But yeah, luckily, I had developed a little bit of an eating disorder while I was still playing which I’m sure impacted my abilities as an athlete, but it really fully manifested in that fifth year after I was done playing.
Lindsey: Yeah. It makes like for probably both of us looking back, it makes sense when you’re not surrounded by your support crew or the schedule that you once knew. And even though it’s like people think, “Oh, you have more time.” But it’s like, no, you aren’t surrounded by what you love or what you identified with before.
Brittany: Yeah, oh, yeah. There’s a huge loss of identity there and that was really tough for me. It was really hard. And I think that just contributed to like all this pressure I was putting on myself. And I was kind of figuring out what I was going to do after school and freaking out about that. And it was just a lot.
Lindsey: Yeah. So what did you do after school?
Brittany: Well, for me, I ended up graduating in a really tough time economically, especially for nurses. I graduated in 2009 and we’re like in the middle of this recession and all these nurses were coming out of retirement and going back into the workforce. And so there was like a hiring freeze everywhere. I mean I applied. I wanted to come home to California. I’m a San Diego girl and had always planned on coming home.
And I applied to hospitals all over the country, tons in California. Like everyone told me like, “Hey, you got to out and get some experience before you can get a job.” Like where the heck am I going to get experience, and no one will hire me? So that was rough because my mom was a labor and delivery nurse. My grandmother worked postpartum and my aunt is a NICU nurse. They’re all in San Diego and none of them could even get me like the homie hook-up, like nothing.
So that was rough. So I actually ended up moving to Hawaii to live with my aunt and uncle. And I was working as a nurse’s aide and basically like helping out kids with disabilities and older people who wanted to stay at home but needed some extra help. So I did that for like three or four months before applying to a program at Vanderbilt, which is actually how I ended up in Nashville.
Lindsey: Oh, my gosh, wow. So wait, share the story about how — like because didn’t you and your husband meet on a weekend?
Brittany: We did, yeah.
Lindsey: Okay, yeah, that’s awesome.
Brittany: So I moved to Nashville. I think it was like January 12, 2010. Moved to Nashville. They have a great program at Vanderbilt for new grad nurses where they basically put you in almost like an internship situation where you get lots of extra training and support as you kind of begin your nursing career. Because nursing is a pretty stressful career and you want some extra support around that.
So then my plan was to go to grad school at Vandie and then of course move home to California and live happily ever after. And I met my husband like February, I think officially February 17th. So I’ve been there barely a month and we pretty much — he was just in town for the weekend from Alabama which is like an hour and a half drive and pretty much been inseparable since. So marriage and two kids later, yeah.
Lindsey: That’s so wild. That’s awesome.
Lindsey: So how long was the program at Vandie?
Brittany: So they put you through — it’s called the nurse residency program. It’s like a six weeks program and then they place you. You get to kind of request like what unit you would like to be on and then they place you. I ended up on a really strange combination. It was orthopedics and neurology. So I would have people who had joint replacements and then people who were in like super bad car accidents and things. We call the summer trauma season because people are stupid and get in all kinds of accidents.
And then I would have a lot of patients who had had like issues with prostate cancers. They had their prostate removed or kind of things like that. So it was a really weird mix, but it was a great learning experience. But from that, that kind of gave me even more fuel to get the heck out of there because I would see — someone would come in and have their knee replaced and then I would literally see them like six months later getting the other one replaced.
Because when you’re very overweight for example, you put a lot of pressure on your joints obviously. And the surgeons will tell them that, “You got to lose weight or we’re going to replace, you know. You’re going to have to replace your replacement or we’re going to have to replace your other knee.”
But there’s no support around lifestyle change. Like, yes, your doctor can tell you that, but unless you are connected to the why behind why you should do that. Like maybe you want to be able to run around with your grandkids or you want to be able to live pain-free. There’s no coaching around that. And that’s where I got really interested in the health coaching piece because I really wanted to prevent some of these issues. Because joint replacement is a really horrible surgery to recover from.
Lindsey: Yeah. And it seems like — I mean with lifestyle anything, the intention’s got to come from within.
Brittany: Exactly. But sometimes like a coach, even just like mirroring back what you just said about why that’s important to you, that’s when the aha moment happens, and patients are motivated to make that change. But health care providers don’t get training around that.
Lindsey: Right. It’s so true. So how did or when did you start to shift all your practice and focus into women’s health? It’s definitely been an underlying thing, but was it immediately after that?
Brittany: Yeah. Well, so in nursing school, I did all of my practicum work on post-partum and in labor and delivery. So I already knew that’s really where my heart was. But that’s where everybody wants to work. So it’s really hard and competitive.
Brittany: Yeah, that’s like the happy. That’s when you get to support people during a really happy time. And it’s really hard work, but it’s in some way so much less draining than working with cancer patients or even joint replacement patients. When these people are coming to you super, super sick. So yeah, a lot of people want to work those types of units, the mama-baby units.
So it was really hard for me to get a job and they weren’t offering that track at Vanderbilt for the residency program at the time. So I kind of had to choose like a med-surg unit. And so I applied to labor and delivery probably ten times and the manager was finally like, “We’re not going to hire you over here so you may as well stop applying.”
And so I was like, “Okay. Well, I’m just going to apply to the women’s health track for grad school and that’s how I’m going to be able to transition into what I really want to do.” And so I ended up quitting my floor nursing job and just focusing full time on my studies and I loved it. I got placed with midwives and got to do so much prenatal care and it was just like a dream come true. My school experience was awesome.
Lindsey: Yeah, it sounds like it.
Brittany: Yeah. And then during that time, like I’m sitting in class one day and we were kind of talking about pain management intervention and kind of like non-medication intervention and it kind of dawned on me. Like first of all, I never heard of a doula. I had no idea what that was. And someone mentioned the word and so I kind of looked it up and I realized like, “Oh, my gosh. These are tools that nurses would love to know. Why is this not part of our education?” So I was just so curious about it. So I signed up for the next available doula training.
Lindsey: Oh. And that’s when you became a doula.
Brittany: Yeah. And I think I took my first client officially like right after I graduated because I got married right after I graduated, and I look my first doula client shortly thereafter.
Lindsey: Awesome. What did you think at your first birth?
Brittany: Oh, my gosh. My first momma, of course it was like the most complicated case. She ended up having to be induced at 37 weeks for high blood pressure. But it was so cool because I didn’t really have like a whole lot going on. I didn’t have a job just yet or I had a nursing job at that time, but it had a lot of flexibility. So the morning of her induction, I went to her house and we did some meditation and some breathing.
And it was a really peaceful day. And so when she went into her birth, like she wasn’t scared. And her induction went really, really well. She’s one of those people who like if she didn’t have issues with blood pressure, she’d be such a great candidate for a home birth because her body just responds really well to any stimulation. I think she was only in labor officially for like eight hours and she even had to have mag and the whole deal. And she was able to give birth without any pain medication even being induced like that, even with the mag.
I think she had like one dose of IV pain medication super early on and then that was it. So she did amazing. So that was incredible. And then she ended up hiring me for her next baby and I caught her baby on a toilet because the OB didn’t make it in time.
Lindsey: Oh, my god.
Lindsey: That’s wild.
Lindsey: That’s such an exciting journey and it seems like you’re definitely where you are supposed to be in this world, supporting women through women’s health, through the motherhood transition and beyond.
Brittany: Yeah. And it was so hard for me to kind of figure out like exactly how — I knew I wanted to work with women exclusively. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t pursue the family nurse practitioner track even though that’s probably the most popular option for nurse practitioners. I just knew like I don’t want to see a newborn and then a 90-year-old man in the same — I want to just be working with women because I already feel like that’s so complex. And I want to be an expert in what I’m doing.
And so I’m glad for that. It definitely limited where I could work in some regards, but I’m still really glad I chose that path. And then becoming a mother just further solidified for me like I want to work with women in the motherhood transition. Because even in women’s health, there’s just a huge span of what you can see, right.
Lindsey: There are so many things, yeah. So yeah, do you want to share anything about your births? You had one last year.
Brittany: Yeah. I know, right. So of course, like being so type A and of course being in like this birth world already and having already taken many doula clients and having patients, pregnant patients before I ever had my baby. Like I thought I was doing everything right and then you know. You can do everything right and birth is such a beautiful experience and that you just can’t predict what’s going to happen. And it’s such a great lesson for parenthood because you just can’t control everything. Like stuff is going to happen.
So I did prenatal yoga and I ate really well and I exercised and I just took really good care of myself and on and on and on and on. And I planned a home birth and ended up having to transfer to the hospital and developed a pretty significant infection. And my son ended up being born by C-section and had to be in the NICU for almost a week.
Lindsey: So the opposite of what you desire.
Brittany: So we ended up pretty much having every single intervention possible, every antibiotic and every single drug. And I ended up with a pretty bad fever. When he was born, we both had a 103-degree fever.
Brittany: Yeah. And I was shaking so bad on the table they kept having to give me more sedatives. And so when my baby was born, I do vividly remember thinking, “Okay, you got to cry. You got to cry, honey. Like start crying, start crying.” I remember that and then I remember them bringing him over to me really quickly, so we could snap a picture and then he went straight to the NICU and I went back to my room to recover.
But I was so out of it, yeah. So that was a really tough thing to experience. Like having my experience as a birth worker and then of course my midwife is a dear friend of my mine, my doula is a dear friend of mine. So we all just kind of experienced this really traumatic birth together.
And I can say that it was traumatic just because, you know, obviously it’s not what we wanted, but we were really well-supported at the hospital. The OB literally was super hands-off until she was finally like, “Look. I know this is not what you wanted, but your baby is telling us that he needs help.” And so I was very empowered through the experience and I’m so grateful for that.
Lindsey: That’s huge. Yeah, looking back on that because I know — I was just talking to a mom yesterday who gave birth in the last month. And she’s like, “Yeah, I’m just starting to process what happened.” And I don’t know if you remember anything, but when you looked back and were processing that, did anything come up or did you practice, change anything about your lifestyle practice to help with healing and stuff?
Brittany: You know, I was so disappointed, and I just kept going back to like what did I do wrong? What did I do wrong? I just needed to blame something. And so I wrote out my initial birth story and I sent it over to my doula and she’s like, “I want to invite you to reflect on this a few more times before you put this out in the world. And just try to look through the lens with a little more kindness with yourself.”
So I was reading it and I’m like, “Man, you’re being so critical of yourself. This is nothing you did. This is the story that was meant to be for you.” And what an amazing gift to be able to have this experience so that you can share this with your patients and your clients. You’ve been there.” And she was so right.
So the story that ended up finally being published out into the world was so different than how it initially started. So I was so grateful to have that time of reflection. And because I had the C-section, I needed a lot of time to recover. So I spent so much time on the couch just nursing and getting to process and that was an awesome. And I had, like I said, I had such an amazing community to support me.
My midwife and doula and I had postpartum doulas. And the more I shared my story, the better I thought — I mean it still makes me tear up, but every time I talk about it healing happens.
Lindsey: Yeah, yeah. I was just going to ask about sharing with other people and your clients and your patients. Because so many — like you mentioned probably five or ten minutes ago, we can check all the boxes and do the list of things for birth, but it’s so unpredictable. And you blaming yourself is not uncommon in that seam. Many women definitely will be really hard on themselves. So yeah, what do you tell these women? What kind of advice do you share with them?
Brittany: I like to say like let’s do everything that’s in your power. Let’s get you as healthy as you possibly can, but let’s not be crazy about it. And that way, when things happen in birth you know that you did everything that you needed to do and whatever happened was the way it was supposed to happen. I hear a lot from clients especially it seems like a lot of moms will hire doulas and really get educated after having a really crappy birth experience where they didn’t feel like they were listened to. They didn’t feel empowered.
And I’ll even to say to them, “It’s going to be different this time because you are taking these steps to give yourself a great experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the perfect experience. But regardless, this is going to make such a difference for you.” Even if they have to have another C-section or whatever it is that they didn’t want to happen. Like this time, they’re going to be more empowered and I think that makes all the difference.
Lindsey: Yeah, I like that. So what did you do different for pregnancy number two?
Brittany: So I was a little shocked when I ended up pregnant with baby number two. I think I totally put it into the universe because I kept telling myself. Like I knew after my older son was born immediately after I was like, “I want to have a VBAC. I want to have a VBAC.” And I just kept telling myself, “You cannot be pregnant until Nash is nine months old. You cannot be pregnant until Nash is nine months old.” Well, guess what? I got pregnant exactly at nine months.
Brittany: Yes, yes.
Lindsey: Wow. Yeah, you for sure put that in the universe.
Brittany: I totally did. So I was all fixated on that and totally got pregnant and I was just not in the head space at all. I was so freaked out. I didn’t even want to believe it was real at first. But because I was so — so again with Nash, I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy. And so when I got pregnant with Nash, I was just so paranoid that something was going to go wrong with that pregnancy. And the whole pregnancy was really tough. And I was so anal about getting my exercise in and eating well and blah-blah-blah-blah, everything I was supposed to do.
So with Gray, with that pregnancy, I was just so much more laid back. It was like, okay, I’m going to do things that make me feel good with my body. I’m going to focus on loving Nash as long as I can and as hard as I can. Because he’s only going to get to be my only child for a little bit longer.
So it was just a completely different perspective. Like I just focus so much more on being joyful and doing things that just really made me feel good. I still worked out regularly, but you got to get creative when you have a toddler running around and wasn’t so anal about getting to the gym like every single day. Yeah, it was such a much better, happier pregnancy. I mean I could have been pregnant with Gray forever, which is probably why he ended up being two weeks late.
Lindsey: Oh, my gosh. Wait and Nash was early? No.
Brittany: Nash was two days early.
Lindsey: Oh, my god.
Brittany: Yeah. Yup. It just goes back to the mindset where we talk to moms with that, right. It’s all about the mindset. And so I mean, yeah, it wasn’t until a couple of days before Gray was born where I was finally like, “Okay. It’s time, buddy. It’s time to get out of there.” Because I just felt so good.
So yeah, I mean I really was just a lot more loving of myself and forgiving of myself with his pregnancy. But even his birth was like it was no cake walk. I mean I —
Lindsey: It was a journey, huh?
Brittany: Yeah, it was. So when I finally — I kind of felt like I was in early labor on a Friday. He was born on a Monday. So that Friday, I kind of just felt like things were starting to happen. I was having some irregular contractions and thinking it was kind of gearing up. And my water broke at 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning and I started pushing at 6:00 a.m. and at 9:00 a.m., three hours later, yeah, I couldn’t take it anymore. I could tell he was just like stuck. Like he just could not rotate to come under my pubic bone. And we had done every position known to man to try to get him to turn and finally I was like, “I got to get some help. I can’t do this anymore.”
So we ended up transferring to the hospital again. And the whole time I’m like freaking out because I just felt —
Lindsey: Oh, so you were at home, yeah.
Brittany: Yeah. It felt like déjà vu. It felt like Nash’s birth. Yeah. And so we got to the hospital and the OB was really cranky and mean and immediately was like, “Well, you had a C-section last time. So you probably just need to have one this time because this baby is probably not going to fit.”
Lindsey: So different OB.
Brittany: A different OB. This one was not supportive, not friendly, not happy about VBAC turning spur. Like picked a fight with my midwife while I’m in labor.
Lindsey: Come on, guys.
Brittany: Yeah. And it was a woman.
Lindsey: Woman. Come on, woman.
Brittany: A woman, yeah.
Lindsey: Support other women. Jesus.
Brittany: Right, right. But she’s also known like in our community for being super C-section happy. So of course, she had to be one who was on call when I came in. But anyway, I ended up getting an epidural. She didn’t even let me rest. As soon as the epidural was in, she’s like, “You better start pushing or I’m taking you back for a C-section.”
So I start pushing and of course he starts coming out. I just needed that quick little bit of rest and like she stayed in the room as I’m pushing. And then she noticed he was crowning and was like — her tune changed so quick. She became my biggest cheerleader. She was like, “Yeah, you got this mama. You’re doing so awesome.” Like, “Who are you?”
So I mean anyway, yeah. So I was able to push him out and it was so surreal and I didn’t even believe it until finally she was like, “Can you reach down and touch his head?” And I mean that was like the coolest moment of my life. Just knowing like, “Oh, my god. We’re going to do this. We’re finally going to do this.”
Lindsey: Yeah. You just gave me the chills.
Brittany: Yeah, it was such a redemptive experience. Because I had the same doula and the same midwife and of course my husband was there. And so for all of us, it was such a redemptive experience. And I think we all just collectively just like — oh, it was awesome.
Lindsey: Such a team effort it sounds like.
Lindsey: So yeah. Okay. So take me back to the moment where you’re packing up and you’re going to the hospital and you said it was like déjà vu. Like mindset wise, how do you stay positive? We’re in this birth. This birth is different than the first, you know.
Brittany: Oh, I had already like — I mean I was losing it at that point. And my midwife grabbed my face and my doula grabbed my face and they were just like, “Look. This is not Nash’s. This is a completely different birth. We need to be in this moment.” I could not have done it without my team. There’s just no way.
Like they were the ones that kept me grounded, that kept me in the moment because I had given up at that point. I was in so much pain and I was just so ready for it to be over with. And I mean when you’re at that point, it’s no longer — I always tell my clients like, “Contraction suck, but it’s pain with a purpose. And when it becomes a point of suffering and it’s no longer productive, that’s when it’s time to get some help.” And I was at that point. So I’m just so grateful for them.
Lindsey: Yeah, what a journey. I hope everybody listening realizes how important a team is. Like those conversations that your doula and midwife had with you, those were so needed. And if you don’t have that kind of support or team player, then it’s really easy for stuff just to be neglected.
Brittany: And when you’re in labor, you’re in that primal brain. You can’t make rational decisions. I mean I’m really glad that I was able to stand up for myself. Like I got even when I was still in pain, I kept telling them, “The baby is right there. I know I can push him out, but you have got to give me this epidural because I just need a break.” I was able to verbalize that and I’m really glad that I did, and I was able to. But I was shocked that I was able to, honestly. And then when I finally did get the epidural —
Lindsey: That mom power.
Brittany: Yeah. When I finally did get the epidural and the OB still trying to tell me I need a C-section, I was able to tell her, “No. I know I can push him out. He’s right there. Just give me a little time.” But I had my team standing by me who I know would have stepped in and said something if I wasn’t able verbalize that for myself.
Lindsey: Yeah. I love that, that story. Like that’s huge.
Lindsey: So for those listening, I don’t know if you’ve all seen that picture that’s been circulating around. We re-shared it at the beginning of this year, the picture of your and Gray. Oh, I love that picture.
Brittany: Yeah, yeah. And definitely if you go on my website and see the video, like oh, my god. Every time, I just burst into tears because I just remember like that energy in the room when we all realize like, “Oh, my gosh. This is actually going to happen. We’re going to get this VBAC after all that we’ve been through together. Like it’s happening.”
Lindsey: Ah, so special.
Lindsey: Wow. Just sit here and think about that for a moment.
Brittany: I know. So I’ve always dreamed of having a home birth and clearly that’s not the story that was meant for me. And who knows. Maybe I’ll — I don’t know if we’ll have more babies, but if we do maybe I’ll get my home birth that I honestly may just go ahead and start on that at the hospital next time.
Lindsey: Yeah. I wonder if like even though you want that, I wonder if your body is like, “Hey, I feel more comfortable here.” Because maybe you’ve been around that, you know.
Brittany: Yeah. And that’s so funny because I always like I get super anxious being in the hospital. Like even going with clients, I don’t like being in the hospital. So it’s so funny that that’s where I’m able to birth, right.
Lindsey: I thought you were just going to tell me, “And I’m pregnant again.”
Brittany: No, no. Three under three is not planned.
Lindsey: But you did #give birth again sort of to a cool project this past year.
Brittany: Yes. Yes, I did, great segue.
Lindsey: So let’s shift gears and talk about that.
Brittany: Yeah. Okay. So I’ve been working on this thing forever now it feels like. I mean I started it when Nash was six months old kind of brainstorming. But I wanted to really create something for women who are starting to think about a pregnancy. I just felt like when I was being my type A self and starting to plan for having babies, there’s information everywhere. There’s tons of crap on the internet. It’s really hard to sift through everything. And not everybody wants to surf PubMed. Like not everyone is like me and enjoys that.
And even me, I don’t like complex scientific language. I like things that are broken down and in layman’s terms and that’s how I like to explain things to patients. It doesn’t serve anybody to try to use this big vocabulary when you’re speaking to people because half the time no one really understands and doesn’t translate.
So anyway, I wanted to create a resource that kind of combines everything that was pertinent. I mean there’s so much to know, but I wanted all like the really big points to get hit in a really easy to understand format that was simple that anyone could have access to. Because even like in clinical practice, women would come to see me for their preconception visit and literally we say, “Make sure you’re taking a prenatal vitamin hopefully.” Hopefully [0:39:37] [Indiscernible] say that.
“Get on a prenatal vitamin. Go ahead and come off your birth control pill. Maybe we’ll check you for anemia or some basic labs. And if you’re not pregnant in a year, you can contact us and then we’ll deal with it.”
I would tell patients, “Let’s start talking about getting you on a healthy diet. What does that look like for you? Maybe let’s get you to not only eat one meal a day or live on coffee. Let’s start to put in — to practice some good habits, because it’s really hard to make lifestyle change when you’re already pregnant. That’s just so much pressure and I feel like that’s what happens, right.” So let’s try to implement this stuff before you get pregnant so it’s not so challenging to make this big change.
Lindsey: Right. And pregnancy is already enough of a change and it changes freaking every day.
Brittany: Right, exactly. Oh, my gosh. And so then I would also — I have always been really into fitness just being an athlete. And there’s so much misinformation about exercise and pregnancy especially early pregnancy and providers telling — like I had a midwife tell someone that they shouldn’t go to hot yoga in early pregnancy because it could cook the baby, like no joke.
Lindsey: Yeah. Just say that out loud and see if that sounds intelligent.
Brittany: Right. And I’m standing there trying not to laugh because I’m shadowing this woman. And like, “You’re kidding me, right?” So there’s just so much separation there and I just wanted to help clear it up. And I think the ultimate motivator for me was I transitioned to a clinic where I got to practice more integrative functional medicine. And most of the patients that I was seeing were women who had had several children in a short span of time and they completely neglected their own health.
So by the time they got to me, they were just so depleted of nutrients and their adrenals were shot and they were just, yeah, completely depleted. And so I just felt like if we can kind of get them before they ever get pregnant and kind of show them what they need to be doing to support their own health, that’s going to ensure that they have a healthy pregnancy. Hopefully, they’ll carry that practice into their consecutive pregnancies. And then that also ensures that their kids are healthy and then they pass down those habits to their kiddos.
Like that’s where we need to be starting. And so I mean it’d be great if we —
Brittany: Yeah. So that’s really — I just wanted to keep peeling back the layers. Like where we need to start implementing these changes? Oh, well, preconception would be a great time.
Lindsey: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Like you said, it would be amazing if docs did something like this, docs and midwives. If they talked about lifestyle stuff and even started that conversation prior to conception or maybe even when women are coming in to inquire about the pill or they get their period when they’re like 13.
Brittany: Uh-hmm, uh-hmm. Yup.
Lindsey: Oh, wow, that would just change the world.
Brittany: Exactly. Or if this got integrated somehow into education when you go through like I don’t know. Every state is different obviously with what they teach for like sex ed and stuff. But fourth graders in California get like education on their period and stuff, but it’s all very like — I mean my mom is a school nurse. So she actually teaches some of it. What is it? Like adolescent growth education or something.
But it’s not like — it doesn’t teach them anything about their cycles and how to track their cycles and what that means for —
Lindsey: Like empowerment.
Brittany: Right. There’s just nothing about that and how that would change the world. And also, boys should be educated on that too.
Lindsey: Yeah, heck yeah. Wow. Okay. So this program that you did, it’s called Before the Bump. And talk a little bit more about how the structure of it goes.
Brittany: Right. So it’s an e-course. So everything is online. I actually just transferred it onto an awesome platform called Teachable. So it’s just really laid out well and everything is really accessible and easy to get into. But it’s divided into six modules. So we talk about — one week, we’ll talk about nutrition. One is about fitness, one is about kind of more like stress and mindset stuff. And we talk about managing and minimizing your toxic load.
And of course, I really like to empower women with education about relevant lab work because I think that is so, so important. Like supplements are great and all, but you don’t want to just randomly supplement stuff. You kind of need to know what does your vitamin D level look like and how do we fix that? And do you need more B12? And what I really wanted to focus on is not just listing what the normal range is because for you, that might not be normal and we’re all different.
Lindsey: I’m so glad you said that, yeah.
Brittany: So I really wanted to put in the optimal ranges. So I want to be optimal in my nutrient levels. I don’t want to be like one point above deficient.
Brittany: Yeah, but still normal, right. So I made sure to include information on all of that.
Lindsey: What are some of the things in the toxins, like the toxic section that maybe one thing you talk about which people maybe surprised about.
Brittany: Well, we are exposed to so many things from our personal care products. And that’s something that is terrifying to me because there’s been no legislation on that in, I don’t know, it’s something like last 50 years. There’s not been any testing on all of these chemicals that have been allowed into our makeup and our skin care product. And our skin is not impermeable. Like if you put something on your skin, it gets into your bloodstream within about 30 seconds.
So you sure as hell better know what it is you’re putting on your skin. And there’s no regulation — like people can actually or companies can actually put in ingredients that aren’t even on the label because of the lax regulations. So that to me is just terrifying.
Lindsey: That’s crazy.
Brittany: Yeah. And I’ve actually been interested in kind of looking into how toxins get into breastmilk and all that. And so when you apply something on your skin especially around your breasts when you’re breastfeeding, apparently, the breast tissue is really permeable to things.
So if you put like a lotion on your chest, it can get into your breastmilk basically, which is just fascinating to me. So it actually gets in more readily than if you were to ingest something. So again, you want to know what’s in the lotion that you’re applying to your skin before you go and nurse your baby.
Lindsey: Yeah. Wow. Okay, that was brilliant. Yes.
Brittany: So we talk about that and my big thing is I don’t want to scare women. The reason I set up the program the way that I did is because I wanted them to take it a little bit at a time and kind of create their preconception game plan. So that it’s not like all at once. So small changes overtime are going to have such a big impact.
Lindsey: Yeah, it’s so true. I wish every couple, every woman would do this before they conceive.
Brittany: Yeah. And I think too like even for women who are planning a subsequent pregnancy, when you know better you do better, right. So don’t beat yourself up for stuff that you did with the first baby or didn’t do with the first baby. And that’s the same thing for hiring a doula or finding out about midwives or whatever. When you know better, you do better. And so just don’t look back. Just keep moving forward and do the best that you can.
Lindsey: That’s so great. All right. This is a lot of information.
Brittany: It’s a lot.
Lindsey: Did I miss anything that you want to add? Any major announcements for BIRTFIT Nashville?
Brittany: Well, I want to add one thing about the program. So I always think it’s super funny that we focus so much energy on what is mom doing to prepare for pregnancy, but we don’t do a lot about the partner, right.
Lindsey: Yeah. Where is that partner?
Brittany: Right. That contributes 50% of the DNA. So it’s probably a good idea for him to do some things before a pregnancy happens. So that is one thing that is mentioned that is mentioned in the program several times is what supplements should dad be looking at? What labs should he have done? What about his mindset?
Lindsey: So they could do the program together.
Brittany: Right. So of course, it is definitely focused on momma, but we have information there specific to how to help prepare dad. Because usually the woman is the one who takes the initiative with this kind of stuff, right, especially health stuff. Women are typically like the keepers of the health care in their home. And so there’s not a ton of overwhelming stuff for men. I made my husband look at the information that I did put in there for guys. And he felt like it was succinct enough to appeal to guys.
Lindsey: Doable, yeah.
Brittany: Yeah and it was doable. So I definitely had it husband-approved before I put it in there.
Lindsey: That’s awesome.
Brittany: Yeah. But specific for BIRTHFIT Nashville, like I said it is our second year. So I’m excited to get things rolling. We have a Postpartum Series starting on January 9th which is in Brentwood. It’s a pretty central location for mommas in Nashville. We also have a Postpartum Recovery Workshop on January 20th that I’m super excited about. So January is full of lots of goodness. And I’m just really excited to kick this new year off and serve more mommas around town.
Lindsey: I love that. All right, where can people find you at social media wise?
Brittany: So I am @birthfit_nashville. I’m also @britteanderson. And my website is just brittanyanderson.net or birthfitnashville.com. And those two are pretty well connected. So if you find me one place, you’ll be able to find me —
Lindsey: Locate the other.
Brittany: Yeah, exactly.
Lindsey: Awesome. What is one piece of advice you have for any women, and you can include their partners, embarking on the motherhood transition?
Brittany: I think it’s really great to do everything you can to educate yourself before you get pregnant. Talk to other women and yeah, definitely find a tribe and a community because that’s where you’re going to get a lot of education and where you can find a lot of resources. Like here in Nashville, we have an amazing yoga studio called Blooma. And that’s kind of our central hub for a lot of the birth workers.
That’s where a lot of moms come to get support. So I think trying to start finding that community and finding those resources before you get pregnant is just huge. So it’s one less thing that you have to worry about when you are pregnant.
Lindsey: That’s so true. Nice. Well, it’s been wonderful chatting with you and I’m so glad you shared all your stories with me and the rest of the BIRTHFIT community. I feel super special.
Brittany: Thank you so much for having me. This was great.
Lindsey: Yeah, yeah, heck yeah. And enjoy the rest of your — how long are you in Florida for?
Brittany: Honestly, I think we’re going to leave tonight so the babies will sleep. It’s like a seven-hour drive. So I think we’re going to leave tonight so the babies will sleep on the way back up to Nashville.
Lindsey: Wow. Okay.
Brittany: Yeah, wish us luck.
Lindsey: Yeah, wishing you safe travels and maybe warmer weather in Florida for the last few hours and then maybe some snow in Nashville.
Brittany: Yeah, maybe. Thank you so much.
Lindsey: All right, Brittany. I’ll see you in Nashville in April.
Brittany: Yes. Can’t wait.
Lindsey: Yeah. All right. Bye.
Lindsey: One takeaway from today’s episode with Brittany Anderson and I think she said it. Educate yourself prior to getting pregnant. Mom and dad or mom and partner or partner and partner, if you’re thinking about adopting, if you’re thinking about conceiving, if you’re thinking about going IVF, whatever you do, educate yourself.
For those that are wanting to bring in awareness practice around their health, their fitness, their overall awareness to their lifestyle, go check out Before the Bump. This is the program Brittany was talking about. And she designed the whole six-week education program. Yours truly, that’s me. I designed the fitness training that goes along with this.
So if you go to birthfit.com and you click on the little tab at the top that says “Online Programs,” this will take you to a nice little page. And you’ll see a little circle on the left that says “Before the Bump.” And then you can purchase that six-week preconception lifestyle program right there.
So yeah, that’s really for anyone that’s wanting to change their lifestyle. And it’s a phenomenal program. Like literally I just got an email today of a woman and her husband thanking me and Brittany for the amount of information that is in there. So educate yourself. Education is power. Until next time. Bye.
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