How Hard Could It Be?

When I had my first baby, it was the first time I had ever seen a newborn in person. I’d changed maybe two diapers, ever. In short, I was clueless.

My husband, John, helped his mom run her in-home daycare when he was younger. As far as I was concerned, he would be a diaper changing pro! The rest of the stuff like holding a baby, or soothing them, well, he’d probably remember it. Like riding a bike or something, right? Never mind the fact that he was a child when he did all this (seriously, what was I thinking?)

I had family in town. My own mother, in fact, lived just a few minutes away. And this was her first grandchild, so of course she’d be over all the time and would help fill in any blanks.

So Rex came out, we all got cleaned up and tucked into bed to rest, and suddenly, my husband and I were alone with a brand new baby.

I remember thinking it was a little bit ridiculous that we were expected to be able to take care of this baby without any practice or formal knowledge, completely responsible for someone else’s WHOLE LIFE. I mean, sure, people have been doing this since the beginning of time, but WE had never done it before!

I’m pretty good at rolling with whatever comes my way, so we jumped right in.

John was great at helping with diapers. We might have eaten more take-out than I cared to, but that was ok. My mom was happy to spend her free time with her first grandbaby. But she had to work, too. And eventually, John had to return to work.

Nights were relatively easy – John was home, even if I did feel bad waking him up to help me when I felt overwhelmed, knowing he had to work in the morning. Sometimes I woke him up on purpose, just because I was so irritated at being woken up yet again, and hey, this is his kid, too. (I love you, dear!)

Days were another story.

I was tired but unable to nap

“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is impossible when you feel compelled to clean house and get the chores caught up. Or shower. Or eat.

I was bored out of my mind

Babies don’t make great conversationalists. Who knew?

I was jealous

My husband got to actually go spend time outside the house talking with other adults, even if they were just coworkers, and the only other place he went was work.

I was jealous that other people were able to take care of themselves, their children, and their homes, apparently without breaking a sweat.

I suddenly didn’t feel comfortable or confident

It took more energy than I ever thought just to pack the baby up and get him into the car, and nursing in public or dealing with a crying baby in public was just too much, so I never went anywhere. I used to be a smart, career-minded woman, an organized go-getter. How had this small person reduced me to this? Why didn’t anyone warn me?

I needed a postpartum doula. If only I had known there was such a thing.

Magical postpartum doula fairy
The postpartum doulas you hire won’t have wings, but you’ll swear they have magic sleeping baby fairy dust.

Abby says postpartum doulas are like a fairy godmother, and I have to agree.

Postpartum doulas are the women who have seen it all, so they are great troubleshooters when things aren’t going well.

They are the ones who let you sleep (or shower!) while they magically take care of the baby AND get some of your chores checked off, or get dinner started so your husband can relax, too.

The wonderful postpartum doulas I know are also the best listeners. You’d be amazed at how easy they are to talk to – so understanding, so loving and caring, and somehow they always leave you feeling content and refreshed. That’s way more than I can say for some of the friends and relatives that visited after Rex was born!

Postpartum doulas are more popular now than ever, and for good reason. Doulas of Memphis offers some of the very best doulas in the area, and they are worth their weight in gold.

Scheduling a consultation is quick and easy, and you’ll be so glad you did it.

Doulas and Epidurals? Yes, please!

I’m planning an epidural. Should I hire a doula? What does a doula do with an epidural? I thought doulas and epidurals didn’t go together!

At Doulas of Memphis, we give the same high-quality, expert support to all kinds of birth, whether an epidural is your contingency plan or your only plan. Doulas and epidurals make a great pair, and we want Memphis families to know that having a doula and an epidural can make for a more peaceful, positive experience. We work hard to keep you feeling comfortable and anticipate even the smallest needs to help you feel pampered and cared for throughout the entire labor and delivery process.

doulas and epidurals

Don’t take our word for it, though! We asked former clients about their experience with doulas and epidurals, and here’s what they had to say:

Having a doula with my epidural was a deal MAKER for my VBAC. She was able to do simple things to make me comfortable, like hand me ice, or get coffee for my husband, and communicate with my family and friends about progress when I didn’t feel up to it. An epidural never comes soon enough, and she helped me through contractions while I was waiting for relief.

After my epidural she was able to be there for me constantly, to adjust my peanut ball or talk to me about what was going on when I didn’t understand or couldn’t remember what the nurse or doctor said. It was extremely comforting to have someone knowledgeable with me at all times to ask questions and discuss what was going on with my body. I was able to talk with her through what I was feeling in my body- what was normal and what warranted a call to the nurse.

The biggest and most critical job my doula did for me during my epidural was to describe what I would feel and how to control my body efficiently during pushing. While everyone else in the room was bustling around, she was able to stay constant by my ear and talk me through this critical point of delivery. I honestly have no idea how I would have figured out pushing without her.

Doulas give partners the space to relax and feel comfortable. A little rest before your baby’s arrival goes a long way!

I think the biggest help for me/us was the support that [my husband] got during the labor after I got the epidural. Having you there allowed us both to rest better. I was also appreciative of [my doula] being a sounding board when the doctor initially suggested a c-section.

If your epidural doesn’t go as planned, your doula is there to support you and offer suggestions for comfort.

Even after my epidural was in place, [my doula] helped me stay mentally grounded. She helped by positioning the peanut ball, she gave [my husband] support and availability to go take a breather, and she was a good voice reminding me of options. I remember freaking out when my epidural was in place but not doing much of anything for my right side, and how scared I was that if I needed a c-section, that I wouldn’t be numbed enough. Then she mentioned that we could have the anesthesiologist back in to adjust things, and that was like an, “Oh yeah, that’s an option” light bulb moment that I wouldn’t have thought of in the moment even though it was so simple.

Birth is hard work, even with an epidural! Doulas help you stay grounded, provide encouragement, and help hold you up as you bring your baby into the world.

Having [my doula] there helped me try different positions to find what was going to work best. It gave me companionship during the seemingly interminable walking and time in between contractions. It gave my husband a guide to helping me, a buffer to the emotional toll watching your wife in pain takes…Then the epidural was sweet relief and much needed rest. For pushing [my doula] was also right there. She helped us stay strong, remember how to breathe and keep feeling encouraged that I could do this!

Doulas provide companionship from pregnancy to postpartum!

The constant companionship and encouragement of a doula is what made my experience even better than I could have imagined. I feel like having you there before actual labor (those hard last few weeks) is what REALLY helped, though.

Having a doula at your birth allows your partner to be more present with you, and for you to connect during the whole experience.

[My doula] was strong both physically and mentally. Her professionalism shone as she interacted with both the doctors and nurses. During my other two births my poor husband wasn’t able to enjoy the experience at all and this time I really appreciated being able to have him to myself and I know he loved being free to enjoy the whole experience. He was able to help cut the cord and hold our baby.

Doulas and epidurals make a perfect pair, and our clients agree! Our doulas work with your family and your trusted medical team to give you the best care Memphis has to offer.

If you’re interested in adding a birth doula to your support team, we’d be delighted! Give us a call at 901-308-4888 or contact us to schedule a phone consultation so we can learn more about you and your family.

How being on the news is like giving birth

This past Friday, co-owner Lindsey Hanna and I had the privilege of being featured on the news on WREG Channel 3‘s Live at 9 segment.  We went on the air with less than two-days’ notice to give some expert insight into a viral story about a woman’s right to her placenta. Even though Doulas of Memphis doesn’t offer placenta encapsulation as a service, we are well-educated on the topic and were able to shed light on what drives women to this practice, the bigger support picture, and how doulas can offer many of the same reported benefits in a more tangible way. Click here to watch!

on the news
Doulas of Memphis owners Abby and Lindsey after going on the news

The news segment went extremely well and we had a great time, but throughout the whole process I couldn’t help but relate my experience of being on the news to what it feels like to give birth in a hospital for the first time. My husband makes fun of me for relating so many things to doula work, but I love analogies and can’t help myself, so #sorrynotsorry. Here’s how being on the news is like giving birth:

Arriving to an unfamiliar place

Even if you’ve taken a hospital tour or seen the inside of a news station, it’s a whole different ballgame when it’s YOUR turn. When we checked in at the news station and were buzzed in, we were seated in a waiting area until an employee came to take us back to the set, much like the experience of checking into L&D when you are in labor. When your adrenaline is flowing from the excitement and perhaps a bit of nervousness of what’s about to happen, the unfamiliarity is palpable at first. Of course, the staff does everything they can to help you feel welcome and settled, but the transition can be interesting for doulas on the news and birthing families alike.

The big deal/daily grind juxtaposition

One of the things I tell birthing families about giving birth in the hospital is that while giving birth is a big deal to you and something that doesn’t happen every year, let alone every day, the hospital staff sees birth every single day. It’s their job, and they care about you, are excited for you, and want you to have a great experience. However, keep in mind that they may express it differently than you might expect because for them, your baby’s birthday is another day on the job. There’s an element of, “What’s for lunch?” and that’s okay! When we were behind the set and getting ready to go on the news, I was sitting in a red armchair geeking out about the green screen while noticing the staff and all of the humorous touches they made to their space…and also that they were clearly not as excited as we were. I even heard a few of them talking about lunch. 😉

The element of surprise

Both birth and live television are inherently unpredictable. You can prepare and learn about your environment, but there is no script and you can never be 100% sure that what actually happens will line up with your expectations. Even though I had spoken with our interviewer on the phone and had a sense of what we would discuss, we didn’t know exactly what they would ask or how we would respond. All we could to was be as prepared as we could and show up with confidence. When we arrived at the studio, there was only one guest chair on the set, which was remedied quickly, and we were amazed at how quietly everyone spoke. Our skilled interviewers made us feel at ease and a part of the conversation. During your hospital experience, your nurses work hard to help you feel at ease, answer any questions you have, and help you adjust to any unexpected changes.

It's fun to be on the news and know that friends and family are supporting you from home!
It’s fun to be on the news and know that friends and family are supporting you from home!

Even though we didn’t have a doula to guide us through the process of being on the news, you can have a doula to guide you through your birth! Your Doulas of Memphis birth doula adds an extra layer of support to the caring staff at your birthplace and fills in the gaps by providing a continuous presence that’s exclusively for you.

If that sounds fabulous to you, give us a call at (901) 308-4888 or click on over to our contact page!

 

 

Beach vacation with baby: Top 5 Tips

Are you planning a beach vacation with baby this summer? This year’s trip to Destin, Gulf Shores, Pensacola, 30A, or your beach of choice might be different than before kids, but don’t let that deter you from having a great time with your baby! Here are our Memphis doula Top 5 Tips for a beach vacation with baby:

Baby Beach Vacation Tip #1: The Magical Pop-Up Tent

If you’re taking a beach vacation with baby, you might ask yourself questions like:

“What are we going to do for shade?”
“What if baby is tired and needs a nap?”
“What if we need some privacy or a quiet place to nurse?”

beach vacation with baby tent
You’ll be made in the shade on your beach vacation with baby!

Enter the magical pop-up tent. A small two-person adult tent is inexpensive, portable, requires almost no setup, and takes care of several logistical problems you might have. If the sand isn’t allowing you to stake your tent, bury it around the edges a bit and it’ll hold up better than an umbrella or gazebo on a windy beach day. If your baby is tired and needs to take a nap, there won’t be anywhere 100% sand-free, but the tent provides a safe place for a snooze. If you need to change a diaper, your clothes, or need privacy for any reason, you’re all set. Don’t feel like baring all when breastfeeding on the beach? No worries- slip into your tent for a nurse and a cuddle.

Baby Beach Vacation Tip #2: Beat the Heat

beach-691392_640If it’s possible, take your beach vacation with baby earlier in the season when the water is warm and the sun is, too! Avoiding scorching temps will mean baby is more comfortable and you get more of the beach time you love. If you can’t go earlier in the season, hit the beach in the cooler parts of the day.

Baby Beach Vacation Tip #3: Don’t Salt the Rim

No babies were given virgin or real margaritas in the making of this silly photo.
No babies were given virgin or real margaritas in the making of this silly photo.

Perhaps this is common sense already, but in the interest of full disclosure for your beach vacation with baby: if you are a breastfeeding mother who plans to both get in the ocean AND nurse your baby, it’s a good idea to rinse off your breasts before latching on. You might love a salted rim on your beach cocktails, but your baby is unlikely to feel the same way! In addition to salt, a quick rinse with some bottled water will get rid of any sand lingering on your breast and make breastfeeding on the beach much more enjoyable for your baby.

Baby Beach Vacation Tip #4: Less isn’t more when it comes to dressing baby

Nobody likes a sunburn or a sandy bottom!
Nobody likes a sunburn or a sandy bottom!

It can be difficult to keep sunscreen on a wriggling baby, and the less surface area you have to apply it on, the better.  Baby bikinis and swim trunks are super adorable, but perhaps not the best choice if you plan on spending a long time at the beach. Consider a hat and a short-sleeve or long-sleeve rash guard shirt with a high UPF to keep baby protected from the sun. It might seem counter-intuitive to put pants on a baby on the beach, but some light cotton pants are easy to slip on over a swim diaper, will provide a little sun protection, and keep sand away from the diaper area. Covering up will keep baby protected and comfortable, and reduce the amount of sunscreen you need to apply.

Baby Beach Vacation Tip #5: Rethink the “essentials”

IMG_0465You can have a great beach vacation with baby without bringing every baby item you own with you. Aside from clothing, diapering supplies, and a place to sleep, your baby doesn’t need much to have a good time. It’s difficult to maneuver a stroller on sand, so consider leaving it behind in favor of a baby carrier. Some simple sand toys and the shells and other interesting textures you find on the beach will be entertainment enough. After all, the best part of a beach vacation with your baby is the time you spend together!

 

Do you have any more tips for taking a beach vacation with baby? Share with us in the comments!

 

 

 

Doulas of Memphis Running Man Challenge

It’s been a month of awareness here on the Doulas of Memphis blog! First it was hyperemesis gravidarum, then it was mental health, and now Multiple Sclerosis. Doulas of Memphis was called out by Concierge Doulas of South Florida to do the Running Man Challenge to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is defined as:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”

Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms. The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors. People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe.

When we got called out to do the Running Man Challenge, co-owner and Memphis doula Abby Powell was on vacation at the beach. Good news: the best doula agency in Memphis never goes on vacation!

Here at Doulas of Memphis, part of how we are able to be the best doula in Memphis is that utilize a sustainable agency model that allows us to balance work, family and fun. While one owner is vacationing at the beach, Doulas of Memphis can continue to run smoothly from home (thanks to co-owner Lindsey Hanna!) and we are able to serve our clients without interruption. Everybody wins, and we can make completely ridiculous videos for you to enjoy….like this one!