#248 | Redefining Power in Birth & in Life with Cait Scudder @themillionairemother

January 17, 2024

Cait Scudder, also known as the Millionaire Mother, is a successful entrepreneur and mother of two.  Currently in her third pregnancy, she joins us today to share her story of transformation from resistance to surrender in birth and in life. She describes her traumatic first birth resulting in a third-degree tear and bladder prolapse and the way she was robbed of her power through hospital policy, despite still achieving an unmedicated, vaginal birth. After going deep into somatic and physical healing modalities between her first and second pregnancies, she chose home birth, giving birth in the water to a ten-pound fifteen-ounce boy without tearing or trauma. It was this experience of birthing in her absolute inherent power that transformed her, and Cait is certain the experience is precisely what immediately propelled her business to the next level.

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View Episode Transcript

Tears just pouring down my face and feeling like pinch me I can't even believe this is what happened. This was the most incredible thing. And in that hormone of you know postpartum, the cocktail of postpartum hormones, I was also I just I went from like happy tears and elation to just like shaking, sobbing and grieving what had happened in my first birth. And I almost felt guilty. I mom guilt is not something that I like a culture that I subscribe to. But the guilt that I'm talking about was feeling angry and sad and indignant about the way that I was treated and Ella's birth, but like casting that energy around my daughter's entrance into the world, I felt so pissed off that I had to process that. But what it also did that helped me really see wow, what a lie that that's how we have to do it. That is BS. Like that is not what this needs to be.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Hello, my name is Cait Scudder. I am a mother of two toddlers. I am currently pregnant with my third baby. And I'm the CEO and founder of the millionaire mother and I am so excited to be here today to share with you all about my two different birth stories in particular, my second, which was the single biggest life changing experience that I have had.

We are very excited to hear your stories. So are you going to start with your first birth?

Yes. So okay, so I and I didn't mention this before, but I live in Maine. So we live on a homestead we live we have 12 acres here in Maine and moved back to Maine in June of 2020. After a failed move out to Los Angeles. So my husband and I actually met in Bali on the beach was a whole thing. He's Australian, he was living in Bali. We had this like story romance that makes Eat Pray, Love look lame. It was just like the most whirlwind incredible romance. We lived together in Bali for about four and a half years and started feeling like we want to ground somewhere that is not in Indonesia, we want to go back to the United States. And so we got here in May of 2019. And my family is from Maine. So we landed here, but we're really trying to suss out what was going to be the best place for us. We decided on Los Angeles. And so in December of 2019, we moved out to LA proceeded to get pregnant immediately on January 1, and then I spent as I know, you know and all you mamas listening, no, I spent the first quarter of 2020 slash first trimester in fetal position on the couch just like so sick, feeling so bad. And then march 2020 happened I was just starting to feel better just starting to feel like I could emerge and start to build community and COVID happen. And so we everything was closed, the parks, the beaches, we had no time or ability to build a community. And as my belly was growing as the pregnancy was progressing, I was like babe, this, isn't it, you know, we we need to make a move here. And so we moved back to Maine. And so I switched providers found a midwife that I really aligned with. She was also a naturopathic doctor and really wanted to have a home birth with Ella. And when my waters broke, I was nearly 42 weeks when I went into labor with Ella. There was meconium in the water and so she was concerned and that was a contraindication for being able to have the homebirth and I was so disappointed. I didn't even have a hospital bag packed. And it was after doing all the HypnoBirthing and all the things that first birth was really traumatic. It was everything I didn't want. I did end up delivering vaginally but I had you know a team of 15 NICU nurses and doctors people talking on their cell phones as I'm fully dilated. Nurses holding my knees up to my shoulders screaming push it was it was horrible. And you know elevated out she she came out Head and Shoulders body and a single push which is not ideal. And I had a third degree tear. I did not have the golden hour that I dreamed of. I spent the first hour of her life like in surgery getting stitched up my bladder I had over a liter and a half of urine in my bladder that they because they wouldn't hospital policy. They wouldn't let me go To the bathroom because they didn't want me to push on the toilet. It was just a disaster, it was a whole thing. And so in between Ella and Jack, I really Jack is my second, I really took it upon myself to do so much healing work because I knew that the homebirth that I desired that a birth, if not pain, free, then a heck of a lot less painful than what I had experienced with Ella, I knew it was possible. And that really became my, my practice and my mission to prepare myself to heal my body to heal my nervous system and to go into that second birth 19 months later with a really different energy.

So how you mentioned that your first birth was traumatic? Yeah, in what ways? Was it traumatic? In particular? Was it because there were so many people in the room that you didn't feel connected with? Or was it because of the the matter of tearing and going into surgery afterwards? What can you point to? Yeah, well,

the tearing was certainly traumatic. The thing that felt the most traumatic for me was being so disconnected from my body and being so the intervention between nurses doctors like hospital policy, telling me what what I could and could not do, there was a pot, there was a birthing tub in the unit that I was in. And so I was able to labor in the tub. And my labor really started to progress. Once I got in the warm water, my body could physiologically relaxed, I could embrace the contractions in a different way. But they had me get out of the water because they were like, you can't push in here. And so I ended up pushing, you know, on my back on a hospital bed fully dilated for six hours, and the fatigue and you know, the policy of you can't go to the bathroom to push, nobody was paying attention. I had an IV in my arm. And nobody was paying attention to if I was urinating or not. So I had had an IV in my arm for 19 hours and I hadn't paid and so the pain that I experienced pushing Ella out was so much greater than it had to be because I was pushing past a nine and a half pound baby past a completely overly full to that nearly the point of rupture bladder.

I just want to say that, that sorry to interrupt you, but that this is not hoss. This is hospital policy. Yes. But it is that is actually malpractice. That is actually abuse. That is completely inappropriate care. I mean, the first thing you do before a woman starts pushing is empty her bladder, you make sure that that bladder is not in the way. I mean, everything about what they did to you in those last moments was just wrong. Yes. And they go I agree to go from. So being so embodied in your pregnancy in your experience in yourself and trust and then just be sideswiped and get into that environment where you were basically mishandled mistreated, yes. And had a lot of physical damage.

Yes, a lot of and I had a bladder, I had a bladder prolapse after that there was a lot of physiological healing that I had to do, but a lot of energetic healing, as you say. And I really hired like a full team of people to support me with my healing process, both physiologically and energetically. And it was so funny that my biggest fear when I started working with my birth coach, he's like, you know, name all the fears. And I was like, I know this fear might sound so silly, but I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to pee in labor, because I don't know what that feels like. And I think that particular trauma, you know, Cynthia, when you ask, what, what specifically Can you point to? That was my first birth that was that was my first template for what birth is and so a lot of the trauma was I don't know if I can do that not I don't believe in myself, that was never the case. But I, I am terrified of something happening again, and not being in a position to let my body lead. And so I really had to cultivate the muscle of my body can lead I will know how to pee. I am safe, and I can do this.

Did you win by the time you were ready to give birth to your second baby Jack? Bruce, did you feel confident in that way too?

Oh my gosh, so 100%. So, so much. So I will tell that story now and I so it was about 19 and a half months later. And Jack was also quote unquote late past my due date, my my babies like to stay in there and cook a little extra. So Ella was 41 and six, Jack was 41 and two, and just such a true Cancerian babies born June 27 2022. And the day that I went into labor with him i know i mean for any mama listening who's gone like half a day past your quote, unquote due date every minute, at least for somebody like me, who likes to plan stuff and likes to just be on the ball every minute that you're quoting. hold over, feels like all right, checking the watch, when's the baby coming. So, a week and two days, I was just like, oh my goodness, when is this, I'm going to be pregnant for the rest of eternity. I just don't know when this baby's gonna come out. I was actually 41 and one when labor started. And it was from the very beginning, it was such a radically different experience with Ella, my waters broke in bed, it was green, and it was kind of like high alert from that first moment with Jack. It was a hot day. I remember it was the first hot hot day of the summer, it was 80 degrees, we went to the lake very close to our house with Ella swimming in the water, came home and took a nap in the afternoon. And in that evening, I started to feel these waves. And I was like they this is not just Braxton Hicks, I'm I'm, I'm actually watching them and observing them. And a lot of the birth work that I did, I took Karen Waltons pain free birth course, which was incredible. I actually worked with her privately, I worked with an incredible pelvic floor physical therapist and energy healer, locally here in Maine, and between the two of them, and just mindset spiritual work, I felt in a radically different position to relate to labor and to relate to the contractions and to relate to the surges. What was interesting is that in my labor with Ella, I had taken the HypnoBirthing classes I had done the meditations connecting to baby and the four part square breathing and all of that, but when it actually came to being in labor, because I was in an environment that encouraged me not to trust myself, I found myself using my breath to almost brace from the contraction. So rather than breathing in, even though I had heard those words, what I was actually doing was basically holding my breath. And what was so different about Jack, so I felt these waves starting and starting to truly roll in. And it's even like the cadence of my voice. It's like this gentle undulation that is how all of labor was, for me, I was in labor for 19 hours total from the first like gentle rhythmic surges through the intensity and then delivery, it was 19 hours, but from the entire time, I was able to just use my breath, to embrace the sensation and let it wash through. And that changed everything for me. I wasn't in resistance to what was happening. I was allowing it to happen and I dilated so much quicker. And labor just it was beautiful. I mean, I know that might sound crazy to some people listening. And I can tell you, I understand that because labor was not beautiful at all, for me with my first but with my second. It just felt like the most like gorgeous, cosmic practice of allowing this process to unfold through me. And I could feel I mean, I could feel I could see I have a photo that my midwife took where I have literally like a grapefruit in my back because you can just see his head descending down the birth canal. It was It was wild, though

-- not literally a grapefruit. No, not literally. But his you're gonna

- the linguistic trend of the day is everyone says literally when they don't mean literally. So when you said literally,

-- yes. Okay, sorry, not literally no, there is not literally, it looks like this, it could you could see the shape of the head descending. Yeah,

it's so cool. And when you can see that you're mentioning something very important that you came to on your own. And it's something that I teach to my clients, so they prepare for it in pregnancy, but it's just some it's a reality that you know, when whether you experience it at while you're giving birth, or you prepare for it before, we're I think unconsciously taught in our culture. by witnessing births in movies, or however we're seeing them in a comedy. We're subconsciously taught that when we are in the middle of a surge or a contraction, we have to endure it or get through it. And I'm sure half of the listeners even now knowing us as well as they do are still thinking right like isn't that and that isn't what you want to do. Because when you have the mentality of enduring it or getting through it, you're believing that there is a predestined number of contractions you must have in order to get to 10 centimeters. And if that were true, if every woman were going to have like, you know, 88 contractions, yeah, sure, just get through them. However you have to that isn't in fact, how it works. When we're having it when we're experiencing that wave as you experienced it, because it is a rising and a lifting of the tissue. We must we must release to it and allow it because all that's happening is the body is just trying to lift some tissue up From the cervix, and when we allow it, we immediately will therefore have fewer total contractions. Yes, we can resist it and make it more feel more intense and lasts longer. Or we can do our best to relax into it and therefore end up with fewer. So that's why you came to all on your own by lying there after your lake swim, which is beautiful. This view, will you felt that on your own and realize it, didn't you? Yes, I mean, what I felt was everything that I had studied. So one of the things that I an exercise, just a silly one, but I want to share because it was so helpful for me that I did in preparation for truly changing my relationship. And I couldn't agree with you more, it's changing our relationship to the surge. And my mind in my first birth, my relationship was out, get it over. Is it done yet? And in my second it was, oh, this is happening. Okay, allow it and the exercise was holding ice cubes in your hand and noticing like, what is the initial reaction and response in the body and in the mind, it says, this hurts, this stings, my hand is cold, I want to drop it hand under warm water. But what happens when we just train the mind to say, Can you Can we just be with the sensation and notice how the sensation starts to change. And so as you say, I came to it on my own. But what I really had was, I had the mental framework for what was happening. But I had the somatic experience of this is this in motion, and I get to practice this. And I watched the waves change. And I think that's the thing when when we fear anything, whether it's a contraction in labor, whether it's the prick of getting our blood drawn, when we are clenched in in resistance, we are going to experience so much more pain. And so when it started to happen, my mental game from the beginning was this is welcome. This is beautiful. Come in. And I found myself the whole labor, especially not as much in the beginning. But as labor started to progress and develop and you know, we know anatomically that the anatomy of the pelvic bowl and the larynx in the throat is such a mirror image of one another. And part of my preparation was really giving myself permission in my own home to just sound and use my voice, not in this high pitched frequency of like it but every surge as it started to get more intense, I was literally just going into this like primal saying like down or open and just saying that to myself. And that was so helpful. And it kept me grounded, it kept my energy just like rooted, rooted, rooted, and kept baby moving along, even though you know come to find out when Jack was finally birthed. He was 10 pounds and 15 ounces. I had a cervical lip, which my midwife actually helped me click because lay it wasn't that labor was progressing slowly it was that I was doing so beautifully. My energy was actually you know, maintain, but there was a part where it was like, hey, something is going on. And she actually had she was very minimal with intervention. She asked me at one point, if she I wanted her to break my waters, I declined that she was very, very just completely empowered me to have what I wanted. And she but at one point, I don't know how many hours through I mean, at that point, I was in the birth portal, you know, half in half out like on an Ayahuasca journey of delivering a baby but she had her hand inside me and like, was like holding the side and the next surge came and it was the most incredible sensation like she like cleared the cervical lip. And my waters broke she didn't rupture the membranes but she just was like they're like, hold an end that really started to progress and move things along. And the the experience the whole labor through the night, in the early morning. It was beautiful. i It was so healing because I was I was literally again, my fear was I'm not going to be able to pee. I would like asked to go to the bathroom every hour get up, go pee and just be so happy. I'm like, I'm doing it. I'm doing it. And it just was it was so empowering. And after that happened, the movement toward transition, it all became really fast. And there was a moment where I was in the birth tub. And I had been doing so incredible for hours and hours embracing these my mindset, my energy. It was incredible. And then it was getting really intense. not painful, but just like oh whoa I can like we are coming towards the Ring of Fire. We are coming towards like this is happening. And I turned to my midwife and I said I'm getting scared. And again, not because I didn't think I could do it, but it was, it was the next octave of surrender that was required. For me. It was the next level of keep getting out of the way, keep allowing, and it was this moment of, I need the reassurance of like, I can do this. And she turned to me, I'll never forget this. She I'm like, you know, hanging over the side of the boathouse, she grabbed my face. And she said, Kate, the very thing that you want to avoid is what is going to bring your baby home. And I just, like started weeping. And I knew she was right. And I it was literally just the invitation not to push not to do anything harder, but to allow that to happen. And so I was on my back, and I always like, I felt like I wanted to be on hands and knees. I was in the tub. And she's like, do you want to move on to your hands and knees? I said yes. And so I pushed myself up. And I mean, oh my gosh, that was so intense. My husband was leaning back in the bathtub, I leaned forward onto him. And I just had this the next search was just, I mean, the sounds that came out of me, it was so powerful. And baby was crowning. And I She's like feel that reached out fill your baby's head. I am amazed at the women who are like, marveling between contractions when their babies heads out, like I don't want to look like I just want to do my thing. And the next surge, I will tell you, that moment changed my entire life. I did not push him out my body I had read about I had studied, I knew this, I could feel that this was what was happening that the fondest of my uterus was literally through the fetal ejection reflex was expelling him from my body. And that is what happened, his head came out first. And my so I was able to like dilate. i That's why I didn't tear it was so gentle. It was in the water. And he came out. And my midwife was like you just birth to toddler like, he's enormous. And but he was just so beautiful and so perfect and so healthy. And just I brought him to my chest. We didn't know if we were having a girl or a boy. And I never forget my husband saying it's a boy and just feeling this like explosion of love and this just cascade of everything that I didn't get to have with my first because it was doctors and is it okay and clamp the cord immediately in all this stuff it was it was just so pure and so redemptive. And the reason that I describe it as the most healing and transformational experience of my life is that it radically and forever re defined my understanding of power and what where our power truly lies as women I had built a very successful company and run a very successful company and you know, had been in Forbes and have a TED talk all about rising and taking the risk and doing the thing and a lot of the and work with women and worked with 1000s of women and my whole understanding and a lot of my background I used to be an athlete, I went to fancy colleges like it was around achievement and willpower and setting your sights on a vision and goal and and accomplishing that goal. And what this labor did for me was it completely turned on its head, my experience of the most potent kind of power that I have ever known, which is like pure lifeforce creative energy itself in the most literal way of how human life comes through the the cosmic portal of the mother's body. It it just had me ask myself, What if power is not how hard we push? how hard we try what we set our sights to and go achieve what if power is radical surrender to the process that is happening through us. And it just add mean, it just changed everything.

We're about dumbfounded. It's no it's so true. It's so true. It's it's exactly right. I mean, we do an incredible disservice to women. In childbirth, too. When we talk about birth as painful, scary hard. When we even just by way of calling a contraction, a contraction is totally Danshen. It's the opposite. It is exactly the opposite of a contraction. So it's crazy that we even say that and it's the opposite of pain. Same as well. The pain is is simply power. And the power is not in force. It's not power as in, you know, the HDX heavy duty engine in your truck. Its power in terms of absolute openness, absolute surrender absolute. As you said, like lifeforce coming through you. Yes, from out there through you wherever it's coming from. It's just like accepting it, opening it, welcoming it and letting it do its job within you. Yes. Not forcing it upon yourself. Exactly.

Exactly. And it's so contrary to what we've been taught as women about birth and about how we steward and conduct our power in the world. And it is, it is a radical reclamation to change that relationship, you know, through birth, and in all other areas as well.

Tell us I'm very curious how, because you've mentioned a few times how this radically shifted your relationship with power in your life, how do you incorporate it on a day to day basis, in your mothering in your work in just your being? Yeah, well, so as I mentioned, my, the primary area, you know, and I didn't feel I want to, you know, represent this fairly, I don't, I don't feel like I was operating sort of like a bulldozer in my life, you know, previously, and in all areas of my life, what it really, I taught, you know, on a large scale, and coached hundreds of women about power, business money, and that my business is actually the core area that I feel, got a serious identity upgrade. And, and it's not that everything that I talked before no longer became irrelevant. It was it was the 2.0 it was the moving from the maiden version of understanding power to the integrated, mature, embodied mother feminine, which is understanding power, not as something that we, we even control or build or diminish inside of ourselves, but that we open ourselves like the aperture of a camera, we open ourselves to be able to conduct and How available are we to plug in and when I think about birth, and I think about the the analogies between birth and business or birth, and creating any kind of result, manifesting any kind of result, whatever that is. And I think about how what a what a crime it is, as you say that we in birth have been taught to believe that the only way that we can achieve the result is through purple pushing and bearing down. And Cynthia, as you were saying before, just like gritting our teeth and getting through, it is such a lie. And it's such a disservice because we can achieve the outcome that way. And many of us have been taught and conditioned that that's how we have to do it. But this other way, it's like we get to hook ourselves on this. This cosmic wave of lifeforce which is so much more easeful on the body and on the psyche. It is so much more graceful, it is so much more elegant. It's so much more intelligent than our superseding superimposed force, trying to actually combat lifeforce energy. And so that when I started to really examine, where am I not hitching my strategy to this wave of lifeforce energy, and the way that I teach business strategy and the way that I mentor women, and how can I align this with the the primal truth that I have just experienced in my body, as a woman, that is what really started to change. And so I ended up rebranding my company it was I was incorporated. That's still the legal name of my company, as my name Kate scoter, Kate's got her international as the name of my company, but earlier this year, and interestingly the gestation point, so this seed was planted at Jack's birth, and it took about nine nine and a half months for this rebrand of my company to the millionaire mother to come through I'm still doing the same work I'm still supporting female entrepreneurs to make more money but I'm really doing it with the lens of from the seat of their motherly power now and unpacking all of what that means and we still do you know, strategy and marketing and offer suite optimization and team and stuff but not from this lens of pushing, forcing doing but from this lens of what does it look like to sync up to the life force that is already there?

Cait, after you gave birth to Jack, how did you perceive your first birth differently?

It's such a beautiful question. I feel like I was a able to grieve my first birth it improperly I had, it was interesting because the elation and the joy I'll never forget being like a week postpartum and Jack sleeping in the little nest right next to me and having this birth book that my mama friends had given me at a mama blessing and handwriting out my birth story and just like listening to my labor playlist and tears just pouring down my face and feeling like pinch me, I can't even believe this is what happened. This was the most incredible thing. And in that hormone of you know, postpartum, the cocktail of postpartum hormones. I was also I just I went from like happy tears in a lesion to just like shaking, sobbing and grieving what had happened in my first birth. And it's an interesting as a mother, I found it really confronting and confusing to be grieving that I mean, I could totally hold space for myself grieving that with myself, but to feel I almost felt guilty. I mom guilt is not something that I like a culture that I subscribe to. But the guilt that I'm talking about was feeling angry and sad and indignant about the way that I was treated and Ella's birth, but like casting that energy around my daughter's entrance into the world, I felt so pissed off that I had to process that for like for this being that I love so purely and perfectly. So it it, it helps me I think, release some more stuck energy around it than I'd had before. But what it also did, Cynthia is it helped me really see wow, what a lie that that's how we have to do it. That is BS. Like that is not what it this is this needs to be.

It sounds like what you're saying is, after the first birth, you were well aware you suffered a lot of emotional pain, obviously a lot physically, and you are grieving a lot. But after the second birth, you're worth with Jack, it sounds like you recognize you were robbed. Yes, that could have been a better experience. And it sounds like that's where your boundaries came in now.

Yes, yes. It's a really good way of putting it. And it's interesting as we're talking about lifeforce, and it was almost like I could feel the sadness and the pain, physical and emotional, but that like mama bear ferocity of like, that is what is real. And that is what is created when women are robbed of following what is real.

And the really sad part about it is that women can accomplish birth in the way that you experienced birth, they can have an unmedicated vaginal birth in a hospital and have directed pushing and you know, have a bad tear or whatever. And they can still walk out and say, I did it. I had a vaginal birth, I had my unmedicated birth, I did a natural birth or whatever you want to call it. Yes. And that's what I had deep down inside, they know, there's always there's still a feeling that's something it's not the same experience, it's not as satisfying. It's not as gratifying as what you experienced the next time around. They know that somewhere within them, they know that they're not fully embodied in their power fully embodied and what is like their actual birth right? It's like in their cells, as Cynthia always says every cell in their body wants to give birth in a specific way. And it's so hard to do in that environment. And even when the outcome is what you expected and wanted and got you still feel that there's like a lack Yes, I feel that the the major difference I mean, there's so many differences the invite from the environment to the light to the mood to the people around but it's the sovereignty it's it is woman lead mother lead, not authority lead policy lead preference lead because someone's about to change shifts, you know, it is it is it is the body leading.

And this is why women have decided to leave the birthing system and go and have free birth because that is the way they the only way they can feel that they have that true sovereignty because even in home birth, even with midwifery led birth sometimes some of that still interfered with --

Yes, and it's really interesting. I will share with you that I I am working with our midwife for this well, I say that I'm signed up I've gone once I'm about to be in my third trimester haven't had a skin and I I feel better in this pregnancy than I felt in all my other pregnancies. I feel baby kicking and moving around I feel so I feel this like primal knowing and confidence and I don't know if We're gonna free birth or we're not but what I know is that the confidence that I feel in my body and in my baby is through the roof. And it is such a powerful beautiful feeling.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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