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Birth Words: Language For a Better Birth

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Birth worker Sara Pixton draws on her backgrounds in applied linguistics and social work to explore the power of words during the childbearing season and how we can all come together to better care for and honor those who give birth.


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Birth worker Sara Pixton draws on her backgrounds in applied linguistics and social work to explore the power of words during the childbearing season and how we can all come together to better care for and honor those who give birth.






Rebroadcast of Spring: Reconceptualizing Due Dates

This episode is a rebroadcast of Season 1, Episode 71. In this episode, Sara talks about linguistic relativity, her favorite season shift (from winter to spring) and how the term "due date" can be all kinds of problematic!


Advocacy: Reframing a Hot Button Birth Issue as Educating, Empowering, and Amplifying

Advocacy is one of those topics that can get birth workers taking sides and sharing strong opinions. In this episode, I argue that advocacy is the heart and soul of all client-centered birth work, and I frame it in a way that I think you'll agree with me! Get involved as an advocate at all levels of impact--with individuals, in your local environment, and at the state and federal levels. I close the episode with a call to action to support the Perinatal Workforce Act, complete with an easy step-by-step process to follow and a file to download and share with your representative. Let's join together in support of better birth! Link to download file:


Amazing: A Pandemic Birth Story with Ella Mink

In this episode, Ella Mink shares her story of giving birth to her first daughter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ella was 17 years old at the time and had an amazing water birth at a birth center that ignited her passion for birth, setting her on a path of becoming a birth and postpartum doula and nurse midwife.


Stories: Powerful Tools for Social Change

In this episode, Sara considers the power of telling your birth story--or your pregnancy or postpartum story. Stories remind us that we are each unique, whole individuals with immeasurable worth and dignity. They highlight the barriers that need to be removed on our path to a better birth experience, and they showcase what's possible if we work together for change. If you'd like to share your story on the podcast, email or reach out on Instagram or Facebook (@birthwords). REFERENCES American Psychological Association. (2021, Ju ne). Carl Rogers, PhD. Council on Social Work Education. (2023). What is Social Work? CSWE. Mcleod, S., PhD. (2023). Humanistic Approach in Psychology (humanism): Definition & Examples. Simply Psychology. Rogers, C. (1995). A Way of Being, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Sulé, V. T. (2020). Critical race theory. Encyclopedia of Social Work.


Unethical: How Ethics Fade from View in the Birth Space

In this episode, Sara confronts the topic of ethics in the birth space. Unfortunately, ethically objectionable things happen frequently in the birth space. Even more unfortunately, they are often not recognized as such. Using the explanations of ethical fading, Sara explores many ethically questionable things that have been justified to be regularly done during birth. REFERENCES: Betrán, A. P., Torloni, Zhang, J., & Gülmezoglu, A. M. (2015). WHO Statement on Caesarean Section Rates. Bjog: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 123(5), 667–670. Betran, A. P., Ye, J., Moller, A., Souza, J. P., & Zhang, J. (2021). Trends and projections of caesarean section rates: global and regional estimates. BMJ Global Health, 6(6), e005671. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022a, February 25). Stats of the states - cesarean delivery rates. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March of Dimes. (n.d.). Total cesarean deliveries by maternal race: United States, 2019-2021 Average. March of Dimes | PeriStats.®=99&slev=1&stop=355&top=8 Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1992). The Tree of Knowledge: the biological roots of human understanding (p. 247). Tenbrunsel, A. E., & Messick, D. M. (2004). (Links to an external site.) Ethical fading: The role of self-deception in unethical behaviorLinks to an external site.. Social Justice Research, 17(2), 223-236.


Rebirth: Birth Words is Back for Season 2... With a Twist!

After a two-year hibernation, Birth Words is being reborn! Season 2 of Birth Words will offer monthly episodes, plus a new twist... listen to this episode to find out more! TRANSCRIPT: Intro: Welcome to birth words. Words are powerful. What are you doing with yours? In this podcast, birth doula and Applied Linguistics scholar Sara Pixton invites you to be intentional, reflective, and empowering with your language as we come together to honor those who give birth. Hello, this is Sara with Birth Words, and I am thrilled to be back in this podcast space with you. The last episode that I published of Birth Words was episode number 78 in June of 2021, so over two years ago. And since then, Birth Words has been in hibernation. I've still worked on a few things here and there, but for the most part, I've shifted over the last couple of years, my attention to other places. I did a lot of work as a birth doula, spent a lot of time on call, attending a lot of births, and just needed one less thing on my plate as I did that. Now I'm kind of shifting my rhythm again, and I am ready to come back with Episode One of Season Two of Birth Words. I am going to be working on Season Two at a little different rate than I did with Season One. Rather than weekly or bi-weekly episodes, I'm planning to release monthly episodes. So this is the August 2023 episode of Birth Words, Season Two. Coming into Season Two, I will be adding a new angle into the work of Birth Words here in the podcast and in other work on social media and elsewhere. I am starting another master's degree. And when I get a new master's degree, I just have to add it into my podcast work. Many of you who are with me from Season One may know that I, during Season One, was pursuing and then graduated from a master's program in applied linguistics. And that was a lot of where much of the content came from for Birth Words Season One. As I would learn about different topics in my applied linguistics classes, I would reflect on their application in the birth space, and then come up with episodes to discuss and think about the impact of language on the way that we give birth and the way that we experience pregnancy and postpartum. With my new master's degree, I will be building off of that work, always incorporating that background of linguistics. But now, I'm also going to bring to the podcast, the new perspective and understanding and knowledge that I gain during my work in my Masters of Social Work program. And we will incorporate the perspective of social work and healing talk throughout the coming podcast episodes. So briefly, I just want to share a bit about my journey and why I decided to get another master's degree. I likely mentioned at some point during the 78 episodes of Season One of Birth Words that my long-term plan was to work as a doula for a while and then go back to school, first for a bachelor's in nursing and then for a master's degree in nurse midwifery, so that I could be a Certified Nurse Midwife and be the care provider in that space, and catch new babies and watch and empower and support and love my clients as they brought new life into the world. And that is a beautiful dream. And I have watched many of my doula colleagues go on to choose a path in midwifery. And it is beautiful, and I am so thrilled that they act as care providers in that space. And the longer I worked towards it, and the more I was on call, and the more I attended births at all hours of the night, I realized that it was taking a big toll on my mental health and my family life to be on call, always needing to have my phone with me and ready to go to a birth at any time, and that the irregular sleep schedule is really not something that was going to work long-term for me to be in a mentally healthy place. And so, I decided instead to focus on mental health—my own by making a choice that will work much more naturally with my strengths and my own needs and family life—and one that...


Narratives: What to Do When Someone Starts Telling a Birth "Horror Story"

In this episode, Sara discusses what to do when family, friends, or others start telling birth "horror stories" at baby showers or in birthing spaces. She uses the framework of narrative analysis to offer ideas about constructive ways to respond in these situations. TRANSCRIPT: Welcome. This is episode number 78 of Birth Words. Today we'll be talking about what to do when you're in a birth space or at a baby shower or any sort of event like that. When someone starts telling a birth horror story Intro: Welcome to birth words. Words are powerful. What are you doing with yours? In this podcast birth doula and Applied Linguistics scholar Sara Pixton invites you to be intentional, reflective and empowering with your language as we come together to honor those who give birth. The work of birth words is to elevate the language surrounding pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Nothing in this podcast should be taken as medical advice. Hello, welcome to today's episode. I have some news. I don't know if it's good, bad, exciting, interesting, or otherwise. But I will share the news as we start this episode. We are coming up on the end of the second full year of the birth words podcast. The end of June marks the end of the second full year of this podcast. And I have learned so much; I've loved connecting with guests; I've loved delving into lots of topics relating to pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. And I've loved learning about hosting podcasts and connecting with people that way. And I'm going to keep doing it through this third year of the birth words podcast, but I'm going to be doing it less frequently. So the first year of this podcast, you can go back and listen to all of the episodes that were released. Every single week. Every Monday, a new episode came out. And then moving into the second year I went to a bi-weekly, every other week, schedule. So for the last year, I've been releasing an episode not each week, but every other week. And now moving into year three of the podcast I'm leaving this platform open as a space to talk about the importance of birth and language and pregnancy and language and the postpartum experience and language. But I'm not going to be releasing episodes on a predictable schedule. When there's a really important topic that arises naturally in my own experience, I will create an episode and share it with you. Or I have an opportunity to connect with a guest that I'm interested in sharing their story or their wisdom as it relates to the birthing year and the power of words, I will share it with you on this podcast. But the times in which these episodes will be released will just be a little bit less predictable or regular. So stay tuned. Please keep checking back in for new episodes. Please keep following me on Instagram and Facebook @birthwords or check out content at But just know that it won't be coming quite as regularly. The reason for that is I am at the very beginning of an exciting journey towards becoming a certified nurse midwife, but I first need to get a bachelor's degree in nursing and then a master's or possibly a doctorate in nurse midwifery after that. So, my original bachelor's degree was an elementary ed. and then I got a master's degree in applied linguistics. As you know, I've combined information from that master's degree with my passion for birth work here in this podcast. And I've loved doing that. And I feel called to keep working on this, in this work, and to become a care provider and to give empowering, intentional, and reflective support to birthing families as a certified nurse midwife, but it's a long journey. There are a lot of classes that I need to take between here and there and I just need to shift my energy a little bit as I begin that path. So, there's my announcement, exciting and mixed with just a little bit of a slower pace here at the Birth Words podcast. Please keep checking back in. Now, I mentioned in the welcome...


Necessary: Talking About Pelvic Floor Health with Dr. Betty DeLass, DPT

In this episode, Sara interviews pelvic floor PT Betty DeLass. Betty discusses the importance of normalizing pelvic health through talking about it! She also makes an exciting announcement about how she's working to improve the perinatal experience for *everyone*! TRANSCRIPT: Welcome to episode number 77 of the Birth Words podcast. Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Betty DeLass, a pelvic floor physical therapist who has so much good stuff to say. Intro: Welcome to Birth Words. Words are powerful. What are you doing with yours? In this podcast, birth doula and applied linguistics scholar Sara Pixton invites you to be intentional, reflective and empowering with your language as we come together to honor those who give birth. The work of birth words is to elevate the language surrounding pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Nothing in this podcast should be taken as medical advice. Sara: Dr. Betty DeLass is a concierge physical therapist in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. She comes to your house for each session. Her passion is to serve, educate and empower all of her patients to live life to the fullest. She is super passionate about everyone's journey along pelvic health and wellness. She treats women of all ages. She specializes in pelvic floor treatment of bowel, bladder, sexual and abdominal dysfunction, including incontinence, constipation, diastasis recti, preconception, pregnancy, postpartum pelvic organ prolapse, frequent urination, pelvic pain, painful intercourse or sexual activity, urinary urgency, urinary retention, and perineal tears. She uses a combination of an orthopedic physical therapy skill set with her pelvic health skill set to individualize your care. She provides local one-on-one concierge mobile pelvic floor PT, remote consultations, and out-of-town programs. You can find her on Instagram @drbettydelassdpt and on Facebook at Reborn Pelvic Health and Wellness. Her website is Welcome, Betty, to the Birth Words podcast. I'm just so thrilled that I get to talk with you about pelvic floor health tonight. I'm going to jump into some questions. And the very first one is, “Why do people, why do so many people, suffer needlessly with pelvic health issues?” Betty: All right, well, thanks, Sara, for having me on here. And I'm just as excited too, so I guess we'll just dive right into those questions. And so I think there's a variety of reasons why people suffer needlessly. I think the biggest thing is just awareness that there is pelvic floor therapy and other therapies that can help with all different sorts of things regarding birth and the pelvic floor. So, I often classify this into five phases of pelvic floor health and wellness. And so, there's five different stages of pelvic floor awareness that you can be in. So one would be people who are like, “what is the pelvic floor? I don't even know what you're talking about.” They have no clue. So it's more of that awareness part. Second group of people would be, “I've heard of it, I know what the pelvic floor is. You do kegels, right?” And so that's kind of another class of people. And then the third class would be, “I've been, I've been dealing with some stuff down there, I've Googled some things. I don't know why these kegels aren't working. Maybe I need some help in this area. No one's really addressing this leaking. I still have pain with intercourse, I've got some nagging, low back pain. And sometimes, you know, I just don't think this is normal, maybe there's something I should do.” And they've heard maybe from a friend or a neighbor, or a parent or something, “oh, you should maybe look into some pelvic PT.” So that's another classification of people. And then after that, there's the people who have done pelvic PT, and they're like, “oh, my gosh, this has changed my life.” And they just want everyone else to know about that. And then the fifth category of people that I would classify in that pelvic health and...


Bonding: The Benefits of Talking to Your Baby in Utero!

Sara summarizes fetal hearing development, then describes the benefits of talking to your baby during pregnancy--for both you and baby! TRANSCRIPT: Hello, welcome to episode number 76 of Birth Words. Today's episode is especially for expectant parents, and we'll be talking about why you should talk to your baby in utero. Intro: Welcome to Birth Words. Words are powerful. What are you doing with yours? In this podcast, birth doula and applied linguistics scholar Sara Pixton invites you to be intentional, reflective, and empowering with your language as we come together to honor those who give birth. The work of birth words is to elevate the language surrounding pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Nothing in this podcast should be taken as medical advice. Welcome to today's episode. Expectant parents, this is especially for you. Any other birth professionals who are listening, feel free to stick around, but I'm addressing this episode specifically towards expectant parents. We'll be talking about why you should talk to your baby during pregnancy. So, for some background developmentally on how and why and when you should start talking to your baby. During the second trimester, earlier on in the second trimester, is when baby's hearing starts to develop. And at first, you are the only one who your baby can hear. Because rather than being able to really hear in the same ways that we do, the hearing that baby can do initially is just this body-to-body connection. So you carrying your baby, speak to your baby, and that makes vibrations within your body which your baby begins to recognize as sound, and begins to understand what that means and starts to have experiences with hearing through that body-to-body sound vibration that can only happen between you and your baby. At this time, anybody else who speaks to your baby, your baby won't be able to hear them. But as their hearing continues to develop throughout the second trimester, that will shift, and at that point, they're able to hear outside of your body. So your spouse or your partner or your parents or friends who speak to your baby, your baby will begin to be able to hear sounds that are exterior to your body. So there's a little background on the development of hearing in utero. So, why would you want to talk to your baby while they're in utero? Well, one reason is that it can help to facilitate bonding with your baby. It can be difficult sometimes to form a relationship with somebody that you can't even see, though you can feel your baby growing inside you and developing, especially as they get larger, but talking is another thing that you can do to facilitate bonding with your baby. So this can look like a one-sided conversation in which you could fill in for your baby's talk. Or imagine what your baby might be responding, where you just say, “Good morning, Baby, how are you feeling?” And you could speak to them by their name or Baby, or whatever feels comfortable to you. You could narrate your activities. “We're gonna go for a walk now, do you like that?” And have these conversations with your baby. And you'll notice that these are the kinds of conversations that you may sort of have with your baby after it's born. Because even once you're able to see your baby, he or she will not be able to respond to you for at least a year. Linguistically, right? So this is one way to start. Now, for many people, that feels a little bit uncomfortable, though. For some people that feels totally great and natural to have these conversations with your baby in utero, but for some people that feels a little uncomfortable. And so there are other things that you can do instead of talking specifically to your baby in this sort of one-sided conversation. One is that you can read aloud. Whether that's children's books, or whether it's your textbook for a class that you're taking, or a work document that you're reading, reading aloud still gives your baby the opportunity to...


Magical: A Conversation with Women's Health Coach Meredith Ashton Cohen About the Menstrual Cycle

In this episode, guest Meredith Ashton Cohen uses the metaphor of the changing seasons to describe the menstrual cycle and how to live your best life by better understanding each season of the menstrual cycle. TRANSCRIPT: Welcome to Birth Words. This is episode number 75. Today, I'm talking with Meredith Ashton Cohen, certified birth doula and women's health coach, about the menstrual cycle and how using the metaphor of the changing seasons can help you live your best life throughout all phases of your menstrual cycle. Intro: Welcome to Birth Words. Words are powerful. What are you doing with yours? In this podcast, birth doula and applied linguistics scholar Sara Pixton invites you to be intentional, reflective, and empowering with your language as we come together to honor those who give birth. The work of birth words is to elevate the language surrounding pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Nothing in this podcast should be taken as medical advice. Sara: Meredith Ashton Cohen is a certified holistic birth doula and women's health coach who supports families in natural birth and understanding the menstrual cycle for overall health and productivity in every area of life. She started studying the menstrual cycle when she lost hers in college. It was a rock-bottom place for her, so she dug in deep. Meredith discovered how to use food as medicine to heal her symptoms and bring her hormones and period back into regular cycling. She also discovered how syncing with the menstrual cycle increases productivity, leadership, creativity, and inspiration in every area of her life. She now teaches women and teens how to access this power of the menstrual cycle for themselves. Meredith, welcome to the Birth Words podcast. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. Meredith: I am so happy to be here, Sara. Thank you. Sara: So I've read your bio to our listeners. They know this awesome work you've been doing recently. I'm just going to briefly share how we connected. Meredith and I are both doulas in Utah and we have served together on the Utah Doula Association board. And I have been really impressed watching Meredith's journey as she is finding this really niche place where you are just zoning in, honing in on the importance of really understanding your menstrual cycle and how it can help you to live your very best life. So, I was really excited to reach out to you and get your thoughts on this and have you share some of the ways that you talk about these things, and do that here on this platform. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for joining me. Meredith: I am so excited. This is my favorite thing to talk about in the world. Sara: Awesome. That's so awesome. And we need so, so many of you. We need people like you who are just like, “yes, please. Can I talk about periods with you? It's my favorite.” Meredith: Yes. Okay, so one of the things that I really like about the content you've been putting out recently is that you use these seasonal metaphors to talk about the menstrual cycle. So I want you to just walk us through a typical menstrual cycle and what the seasonal metaphor is to help us understand that phase in the menstrual cycle and how understanding it with that season can help us live our best life during that phase. Meredith: Very good. Okay. So the four seasons is something that we know about and that we can connect. And so we can kind of bring our cycle knowledge into something that already has a context for us. And so I love using the seasons for that reason, because it helps us connect with our cycle and maybe something that we don't know into a context that we do know. So, we'll start with springtime, and this is your follicular phase, which follows directly after your menstrual phase. And this is when your hormones are starting, your estrogen is starting to increase during this phase. And with your estrogen increasing, your energy is increasing. And if you think about springtime, this is the time...


Roots: Rebroadcast of Birth Words, Episode 1

This week on the podcast, I'm bringing Birth Words back to its roots. I aired the first episode of Birth Words on June 29, 2019. Since then, I've produced over 70 unique episodes, and gained lots of listeners. And this week, I'm rebroadcasting that very first episode. So, if you haven't yet listened to the story of the birth of Birth Words (or even if you have), give this episode a listen!


Communication: Changing the Way You Speak to Fit Your Circumstances

In this episode, Sara discusses the concept of communicative repertoires: the idea that we modify the way we speak to fit the circumstances we're in and our relationships (real or intended) with the person we're talking to. Sara poses questions for birthgivers and birthworkers to consider as they communicate with others during pregnancy and birth.


Teacher: Learning Life's Lessons During an 80-Hour Labor, with Michelle Knight

In this week's episode, I talk with Michelle Knight about how the process of giving birth was a great teacher that shaped Michelle's approach to life afterward. We also discuss the power of sharing stories about the challenges of our birth and postpartum experiences. Our words can validate these experiences and invite others to find the support they need as we shift identities while moving into parenthood.


Spring: Reconceptualizing Due Dates

In this episode, Sara talks about linguistic relativity, her favorite season shift (from winter to spring) and how the term "due date" can be all kinds of problematic! Resources: Sapir, Edward, and Benjamin Whorf. "The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language." Language, Thought and Reality (1956): 134-159. Boroditsky, Lera. How Language Shapes the Way We Think. TED. November 2017. Video, 14:04.


Workshop: A Sneak Peek into the Birth Words In-Depth Workshop for Birthworkers

Birthworkers, this one's for you! In this week's special episode, listen to four birthworkers discuss what they learned from and loved about the Birth Words In-Depth Workshop for Birthworkers. When you're ready to enroll in the workshop, head over to and choose the option that works best for you: ONLINE or LIVE (03.27.21 in Lehi, UT). Earn 8 ICEA contact hours, learn things about language that will improve the care you give your clients and benefit ALL of your interpersonal relations, and have fun while you're at it! Can't wait to see you there!


Unknown: An Interview with Birthing from Within Trainer Nikki Shaheed

In this week's episode, Nikki Shaheed talks about how to discover your heart's question to guide your birth, the various archetypes for approaching the birth experience, and the etiquette for Laborland. Nikki's powerful interview highlights the power of leading with questions, respecting the individuality of each birther and birth experience, and being okay with the unknown.


Respect: Honorifics and the Circle of Support

In this episode, we consider how and to whom we show respect through language. Specifically, we consider the use and impact of titles (or lack thereof) by birth care providers. Sara invites you to be reflective about the care providers you choose, the titles they use or don't use, and the relationships these honorifics support. REFERENCES: Wardhaugh, Ronald. An introduction to sociolinguistics (2nd Edition). Vol. 28. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.


Intricate: Kayte Gardner Tells Her Birth Stories

In this week's episode Kayte Gardner talks about the stories we tell ourselves about birth, birth trauma, and "high-risk" pregnancy and birth. Tune in to hear her tell her stories of loss and feelings of brokenness and of surprising herself and finding a passion in birth work.


Conduit: Communication Isn't a Matter of Boxing Up Meaning

In this episode, Sara discusses the conduit metaphor identified by linguist Michael Reddy. The conduit metaphor is an oversimplification of communication and language. This metaphor assumes that communicating is a simple act of packaging up your meaning in words and sending it to another person, who unproblematically opens it and understands precisely your meaning and intention. But anyone who has ever conversed with anyone knows that this is oversimplified and that communication is fraught with misunderstanding! How does this apply to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum? Sara discusses the role and mission of Birth Words and how, through all of its resources, we dig into the complexity and the power of language and commit to being reflective, intentional, and empowering with our words. REFERENCE: Michael Reddy, "The Conduit Metaphor," in Metaphor and Thought 2, edited by Andrew Ortony (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1979), 284-324.


Exalted: A Conversation with Alisa Crawshaw about the Noble Work of Parenthood

In this conversation, Alisa, doula and mother to two (soon to be three) talks about her birth stories. She discusses the people who guided her on her path to her beautiful births, and her orgasmic first birth. She also tells about the work she does with her clients to guide them as they discover and claim their power in parenthood.