Proactive Birth after Trauma, with Toni DeAztlan Smith

Toni DeAztlan Smith went into her first birth without doing much research and naively trusting the system. After an eye-opening traumatic experience that took over 6 years to process, Toni was finally ready to take birth into her own hands and proactively turn it from something you endure to something that is empowering. Her second birth was a powerfully healing experience that culminated in a thrilling oxytocin high. Go listen.

Listen directly through our website player, or however you usually listen to podcasts.


What we talked about:

  • Focused on work, ignoring her first pregnancy
  • Putting her trust in her OB
  • Induction prep? “We didn’t even bring our bags”
  • Step by step of medicalized induction
  • The added layers of abuse and obstetric violence
  • Trying to meditate, but feeling like a rag doll
  • The threat of a cesarean
  • Why was baby whisked away?
  • Finally understanding what happened
  • Blaming herself no more
  • Being very intentional about her next birth
  • Taking charge of what she could change
  • 40 weeks, 5 days: “These feel a little different”
  • Strong, strong, then super strong…
  • “Go labor on the toilet” (and finding a great coping mechanism)
  • Loving the car ride!
  • A different way of letting your team know you won’t have a vaginal check
  • The tub as a “liquid epidural”
  • Is she coming out my butt?
  • The oxytocin high


Toni and her whole family


Helpful resources, books, and articles*:


A happy newborn!


Related Birthful episodes:


The birth center’s baby board.

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About Toni DeAztlan Smith

Toni DeAztlan Smith is the mother of two girls. She is an assistant professor of practice in digital media production at a university in the midwest. Her storytelling chops were honed at UT Austin’s Radio-Television-Film program and at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Before motherhood, Toni was a television producer for a major network in New York City.

Check out her blog: Proactive Pregnancy.




Title music:Vibe Aceby Kevin MacLeod, from the Free Music Archive / CC BY (edited for length).

Sponsorship music:Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie, from the Free Music Archive / CC BY (edited for length).

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