Ep. 97 - Preparing for a Positive Cesarean Birth with Nicole Heidbreder and Amir Niroumand

“If that’s something that I could encourage other pregnant people to do, is to try to have that clarity about their wants and their needs and their desires, and then to verbalize from a place of clarity to their provider. That inner state of clarity is very important in the conversation.” —Nicole Heidbreder

“My job was to not try to fix things and be more of a listener.”  —Amir Niroumand

While vaginal birth is often seen as the ideal, for many birthing experts a medically-necessary cesarean section is the safest option. However, the sterility and clinical nature of surgery can make cesareans feel less personal than desired. But with intentional planning, cesareans can still honor a person’s needs and vision for birth. 

In this episode, we are joined by DONA International approved Birth doula trainer, Nicole Heidbreder and her partner, Amir Niromand. As a labor and delivery nurse and birth doula of many years, Nicole had clear visions for her own birth plans. However, after struggling to conceive for over a year and experiencing multiple miscarriages, she was forced to reconsider everything.

Nicole and Amir discuss their journey trying to conceive for over a year, which included multiple miscarriages. Nicole explains how her history as a labor and delivery nurse and doula led to shifting her birth plans after being diagnosed with fibroids. She details emotionally accepting surgery and a planned cesarean. Nicole created a supportive medical team and shares her vision for a “magnificent cesarean” honoring her, Amir, and their transition to parenthood, outlining her birth and postpartum plans. 

Tune in and learn the importance of grieving loss, the role of clear communication with medical providers, the impact of community support, and the power of crafting a birth centered on the birthing person’s needs, voice, and choice.


Episode Highlights:

02:59 Pregnancy and Loss 

10:43 Shifting Birth Vision and Creating a Supportive team

16:42 Grief and Healing After Pregnancy Loss

20:48 Preparation for a Planned Cesarean Section  

26:43 Postpartum Preferences 

32:10 The Role of the Community in Providing Supportive Care

34:39 Honoring the Mother’s Voice and Choice

Listen Now!

Prefer to Watch?

About Nicole Heidbreder:

Nicole Heidbreder has worked as a Hospice nurse and Labor & Delivery Nurse in various capacities for the last 13 years in the Washington DC area in addition to teaching Birth and End of Life Doula Workshops.

As a birth worker, Nicole has been attending births as a doula for over 17 years here in DC, NYC, San Francisco, Sumatra, Bali, and Uganda, in addition to working as a labor & delivery nurse at George Washington University Hospital. Currently, she also facilitates independent birth doula workshops and trains nursing students as a Clinical Instructor with the Johns Hopkins University Birth Companions Program.  Through her work as a DONA International-approved Birth doula trainer, she has taught hundreds of women over the past 10 years and truly believes that teaching maternal child health is her life’s calling.

As a death worker,  Nicole supports people ending their lives using Medical Aid in Dying and teaches End of Life Doula Workshops for the International End-of Life Doula Association.

Through all of her work in education, Nicole was proudly inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honors Society as a Leader in the field of Nursing and she sat on the George Washington University Hospital Ethics Committee for several years.

Prior to all of this, Nicole completed a Master of Arts in Administration and Management from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Illinois where she was a Ford Foundation Scholar.

She has lived, studied, worked, volunteered, and traveled in over 45 countries around the world. What continues to inspire and amaze her is the resilience and intelligence of the people she encounters, and how they gracefully face the highs and lows of life.

When Nicole isn’t teaching classes or hosting one of her signature Death Cafes, you can find her playing with her two adorable cats: Apollo and Hermes.


About Amir Niroumand:

Amir Niroumand is a fuel cell scientist and community farmer. As a fuel cell scientist, Amir works to develop sustainable energy solutions. His passion lies in community farming, where he owns and operates a farm focused on healing, community building, and growing food to support wellness. Amir brings his interests in sustainability, healing, and community to his role as a partner and soon-to-be father. He is dedicated to supporting his partner Nicole through their fertility journey, pregnancy, and the transition to parenthood.


Connect with Graceful Fusion: 

Website: https://www.gracefulfusion.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gracefulfusion 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gracefulfusionofbirthanddeath/ 

We start today! April 24th

DONA Birth Doula Training May 2024


All times are in ET (New York) time zone


  • April 24, 4:00 – 6:00 PM ET | Welcome Session and Anti-racism + Birth Equity
  • May 2, 2024, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET | VIRTUAL Introduction to Childbirth Part I
  • May 3, 2024, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET | Introduction to Childbirth Part II & DONA Birth Doula Part I


  • May 7, 2024, 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM ET | Arrival + Check-in 
  • May 7, 2024, 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM ET | DONA Birth Doula Part II 
  • May 8, 2024, 8:30 – 9:30 AM ET | OPTIONAL Beach Yoga
  • May 8, 2024, 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM ET | DONA Birth Doula Part III 
  • May 9, 2024, 9:00 – 11:00 AM ET | DONA Birth Doula Part IV & How to Support Pleasure and Love in Childbirth
  • May 9, 2024, 11:30 AM ET | Check-out


  • May 30, 4:00-5:30 PM ET | DONA Certification and Birth Biz Q & A |