Can I Give Up a Natural Birth?

Have you always imagined you’d give birth naturally, but are realizing now that, for whatever reason, natural birth just isn’t in the cards this time?

Maybe you have a medical condition that prevents you from having a natural birth – it could be placenta previa, or a breech baby, or maybe there’s concern over how well the baby could handle labor, to name a few common examples.

Is it ok to accept that a natural birth isn’t in your future?

Sure, you could stand on your head for hours a day, or do special moves in the swimming pool, or any of the other hundreds of suggestions for getting a breech baby to flip around – but what if none of them work for you? And what if you just don’t feel like trying yet another trick you heard worked for your coworker’s friend?

poolside lemonade
Set aside your worries – enjoy your time poolside!

 

What if the thought of one more positive visualization imagining your placenta moving out of the way makes you want to throw things across the room? Is it ok to just stop?

Can you feel good about accepting this change in your plans?

Absolutely.

If natural birth has always been your goal, it can be a hard mental shift to accepting that your reality may involve more medical intervention than you want. But you can do it. In fact, it’s ok to make that shift. It’s ok to embrace a new outlook, and look forward with anticipation instead of dread.

I’ll repeat, because it’s so important: it is absolutely, always, 100% ok for you to be at peace with your decisions.

Asking yourself the following questions can help you clarify your feelings. Part of our job at Doulas of Memphis is to help you work through the answers, and to support you every step of the way, so if you don’t know us already, let’s chat!

What is it about a medicalized birth that I’m hoping to avoid?

Is it a feeling of lack of control? Are you worried that you are somehow letting your baby or your partner down? Is it important to you that you still have a voice in your experience? Are you concerned that the medical aspect will overwhelm you with questions and details?

You might have a combination of answers to this question. Once you have explored all your answers, start to think about concrete things you can do to alleviate or even eliminate your concerns. Talk about your ideas with your doula and your doctor. We both want what is best for you, and can help you with your new plans.

What will it mean about me as a person or as a parent if I have a medicalized birth?

Worded slightly differently, you might come to an answer from a different angle: what will it mean about me as a person if I don’t have a natural birth? Hopefully, you are able to see that you are a worthy and valuable person and parent, regardless of the circumstances of your baby’s birth. You deserve to feel good about your choices and your experience.

Imagine yourself birthing your baby with confidence and clarity. What do you need this time to do that?

This is a great question to ask yourself regardless! Do you need education about your new options? Do you need additional support now and during the labor? Do you just need someone who “gets it” and won’t judge as you work through your feelings and make new decisions; someone who will remind you that you are enough?

The insight gained from your answers can help you start setting the stage for a positive birth experience, even if it isn’t the one you always thought you wanted. We would love to help you every step of the way.

Round ligament pain: Why is my belly so sore?!

Round ligament pain is a common complaint during pregnancy, and can be a bit alarming if you don’t know what it is. You might be thinking, “OMG I’m barely into my second trimester, WHY is my belly so sore?!”

 

round ligament pain
You mean my uterus is held up by the equivalent of a rubber band?!

If this isn’t your first rodeo, chances are you experienced round ligament pain sooner this time. Yes, it’s annoying, and totally unfair, even if it is a normal part of pregnancy.

What’s a round ligament anyway?

During pregnancy, your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby. Your round ligaments are what support your uterus inside of your abdomen, and when your uterus stretches, your round ligaments stretch and soften as well. Think of it like a very thick rubber band that’s stretchy but has lots of resistance.

What does round ligament pain feel like? What causes it?

As your round ligaments are stretched and pulled by your growing uterus, they can pull on sensitive nerves and cause pain. Most women experience round ligament pain as a sharp, stabbing sensation on one side of their abdomen, sometimes both. For some, it almost feels like ovulation pain or an abdominal cramp. It can be caused by changing positions too quickly, sneezing, sleeping funny, exercise/overdoing it, or just plain old being pregnant. Whatever the cause, it’s no fun! We’ve been there, done that, and gotten the uncomfortably stretchy t-shirt.

What can I do about round ligament pain?

As annoying as it is, there are things you can do to help relieve round ligament pain, like…

Rest: If you’re experiencing pain in your abdomen from exercise or overdoing it, the best thing you can do is stop and rest. You may need to modify your routine to minimize pain and pressure.

Support: Particularly in the latter part of pregnancy, your round ligaments can feel sore from the weight of carrying your baby. A support band, girdle, or simply wrapping your belly with a ring sling or wrap you already have can help take the pressure off. Your doula may also have some additional suggestions for you.

Change positions slowly: Since round ligament pain can be caused by sharp movements, changing positions slowly can help you avoid that unpleasant cramping sensation.

Exercise/Stretching: If you have the okay from your provider, you can utilize some simple stretches to help with round ligament pain. One common stretch is a knee-chest position, where you place your knees and chest on the floor, legs apart, with your bottom in the air. It’s not the most flattering, but many find that this stretch really helps.

If you are experiencing extremely sharp pain, particularly pain that extends into the groin area, let your provider know. That could be another type of pregnancy-related pain called symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD. 

With SPD, the ligaments that keep your pelvis aligned stretch and relax too soon before birth. This can cause intense pain and pressure in the groin area, and should be dealt with under the care of a physician and likely a pelvic floor physiotherapist. SPD is different from round ligament pain and affects a different area of your body.

Your doulas will never minimize your complaints, no matter how small, and will always provide a listening and understanding ear. If you don’t have a doula yet but want one, let us know and we’ll get you taken care of!

 

 

 

The four-letter word you shouldn’t say in labor

Anybody who works around women giving birth will tell you that they have heard their fair share of four-letter words in the delivery room. Even the most mild mannered, polite, and proper of women have been known to let a few choice words fly in the midst of contractions or pushing.

cursing in labor

However, there is one word that we feel should be taken out of a women’s vocabulary during labor, and that word is “only.”

It’s a common scenario. Mom’s been having contractions all day/all night/all week, and finally gets that feeling that tells her, “it’s time,” but then she gets to the hospital and the news isn’t quite what she expected.

“I’m only 3 cm dilated.”

“It’s been six hours, and I’ve only progressed 1 cm.”

“I’m only in early labor and not active labor like I thought.”

“If I’ve only gotten this far in the past eight hours, how long is the rest of this going to take? Am I going to be in labor forever?”

“I’ve only been at __cm for 8 hours. Does this mean I have to have a cesarean?”

The vast majority of the time, the word “only” is used in reference to cervical dilation. The problem with this is that it fails to acknowledge all of the other things that a woman’s body has to do before pushing out a baby. Every contraction has a purpose, but that purpose is not always to dilate the cervix. Some contractions work to engage the baby further in the pelvis or to help the baby rotate. During labor, the cervix does four things:

Softening: in preparation for effacement and dilation, the cervix starts at a firm consistency, like the tip of your nose, and softens to allow for effacement and dilation.

Effacement: as the baby’s head becomes more engaged in the pelvis, the cervix thins out, or effaces, in preparation for dilation.

Positioning: before labor, the cervix is high and posterior, or facing towards your back. As labor progresses, the cervix moves to an anterior or forward facing position in preparation for delivery.

and finally…

Dilation: as delivery approaches, the cervix dilates, or opens, to 10 cm. This is also known as “complete.” When the cervix is fully dilated, the second stage of labor, or the pushing phase, can begin.

The dangers of “labor math”

Labor math refers to the practice of taking how long it takes to get from one stage and dilation to the other and assuming it will take that long to get to the next stage of dilation. Dilation, however, rarely follows such a linear pattern and labor math is not a good way to estimate how long it will be before delivery. This leads to another four-letter word called, “WHEN?!” Instead, labor math leads to disappointment, frustration, and feelings of dread. Because there are other factors besides dilation that lead up to delivery, there might be an ebb and flow to the progress of your dilation.

What if my labor stops?

You may feel “stuck” at a certain number and reach a plateau, and then proceed to dilate fairly quickly after a period of time. Or not! Using the word “only” to talk about your labor progress discounts the amazing work that your body is doing. It is true that sometimes a lack of progress indicates a need for a cesarean, but usually there are other factors at play that contribute to an OB’s decision to perform a cesarean. Unless your OB has discussed a specific concern with you, there is no need to worry if things seem to be taking longer than you expected. If you are feeling exhausted or have another need, don’t be afraid to speak up and communicate those needs with your birth team. Your doula can help you talk things through and help you communicate with the staff if you aren’t quite sure how.

Our opinion? We won’t judge you for any four-letter word you might say during labor, but consider leaving the word “only” at home. You are more than “just” or “only:” you’re incredible and you’re doing great work!

Memphis Baby Registry | Boutique Week

Welcome to Boutique Week!

If you’re pregnant in Memphis, there’s never been a better time to have a fun Memphis baby registry for your newest addition! In addition to the retail giants that offer baby registries, there are several Memphis baby boutique options that have the perfect gifts with a local flair. Welcome to Boutique Week, a blog series where we’ll spend time each day looking at each of our local baby boutiques, what they have to offer, and what sets them apart from the other stores in town.

memphis baby registry

But first…

Your Memphis baby registry just got even better: Doulas of Memphis is now offering gift certificates!

Once you’ve gotten all the aden + anais swaddle blankets, Kickee Pants sleepers, and monogrammed bags you’ll ever need, Doulas of Memphis now offers gift certificates so that you can register for “other” necessities you can’t buy in the store, like postpartum help, a full night’s sleep, professional birth support, and more.

With Doulas of Memphis, your family and friends can give you the gift of supported beginnings and a more peaceful transition.

Whether you’re well-supported with a few gaps here and there or you’re in need of more extensive help, Doulas of Memphis has the right solution for your family. We adapt to your family and are equipped to support you as much as you need. Our birth and postpartum services make the perfect addition to all of your baby gear.

Gift certificates for Memphis Doula Services are available for purchase online with a variety of options.

To purchase a gift certificate, visit our Gift Certificates page. For a more customized gift option, contact us at hello@doulasofmemphis.com and we’ll be happy to work out something special for you.

Follow us during Boutique Week to get the scoop on our favorite local boutiques and for great gift ideas to go with your Doulas of Memphis gift certificate!

Boutique Week posts:

 

Introducing Mia Peake

Doulas of Memphis is growing, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have MiaJenell (Mia) Peake on our team as our newest birth doula!

Mia Peake

Mia is a native from Memphis, Tennessee but moved to Georgia where she completed high school and then graduated college with a double major in psychology and women’s studies from Georgia State University. Shortly after she graduated, she joined the Peace Corps as a health educator in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. Here, she worked with local women and adolescents to promote awareness in various topics including cultural diversity, bullying, self- esteem, healthy relationships, healthy diet, and healthy hygiene practices. She then moved back to the States (Nashville) to complete her masters in public health and health policy at Meharry Medical College.

While completing her master’s degree, she fell completely head over heels with a gentleman from her hometown and now resides in Memphis, Tennessee. Her passion for as long as she can remember has been to be of service to women. Women from all creeds and all backgrounds. She decided to become a doula because she whole-heartedly believes all women and families should have the right to bring a child in the world with the utmost support, education and peace all in an unbiased non-judgmental environment. She is completely overjoyed to be of service in her very own community!

Outside of being a doula, Mia enjoys cooking for her husband, hiking, gardening, watching a wide-range documentaries and watching Game of Thrones.

We asked Mia why she chose Doulas of Memphis. Here’s what she said:

I want to be a part of the greatest transition- from woman to mother. Doulas have the ability to help insure that the next generation more peacefully and with more informed mothers. That’s powerful. As for me and Doulas of Memphis, it seemed just right! You all were so helpful- you were the first ones to reach out to me when I had so many questions. You were warm and open and that meant a lot to me.

We believe that Mia will be a great asset to our team and is definitely Doulas of Memphis material. We hope that everyone who has the privilege of working with her thinks so, too! Welcome, Mia!

 

Doulas are like Grizzlies Fans

Everybody knows that Memphis Grizzlies fans are a special breed. Grit and Grind, All Heart, and Believe Memphis are more than slogans; they tap in to what makes us proud to call Memphis home. If you’re not already familiar with what a doula is and what we’re all about, we’re here to tell you how doulas are a lot like Grizzlies fans!

No age limit for Grizzlies fans!
No age limit for Grizzlies fans!

Let’s break it down:

Doulas and Grizzlies Fans provide unconditional support.

Grizzlies fans aren’t fair-weather fans. Whether they’re faced with injured players like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley or celebrating a big win over the Cavs, Grizzlies fans show up for their team no matter what. In the same way, doulas are there to support families unconditionally through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. We’re on call and ready to show up no matter the outcome. Instead of sitting in the stands, we’re courtside offering physical help, practical suggestions, and the encouragement you need to make it through.

Doulas and Grizzlies Fans work with awesome grandparents!

Not every baby’s grandparents can dance like the Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas, but we sure are glad to have them around. Grandparents who are supportive, involved, and ready for fun are worth their weight in gold! Much like Grizzlies fans cheer the Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas on from the stands, doulas love grandparents and come alongside them to support new parents. With a doula on your team, your mom or dad can focus on the excitement of welcoming a grandbaby while knowing their baby is in great hands!

Doulas and Grizzlies Fans are there for all of the highs and the lows.

Grizzlies fansBasketball games, birth, and those early days of a new baby come with a wide range of emotions: anticipation, excitement, nervousness, uncertainty, celebration, relief, etc. These emotions can be felt before, during, and after a game, and Grizzlies fans are present for all of them. Between Tony Allen with a great defensive stop, the playoffs, and anticipation of the upcoming draft,  there’s never a dull moment for Grizzlies fans. Doulas similarly are there to ride the emotional roller coaster with families through the time surrounding welcoming a new baby. The important difference, however, is that doulas are able to remain unbiased and emotionally unattached…to you and your family. The Grizzlies are a different thing altogether ;).

Even after the game is over, Doulas and Grizzlies Fans continue the support at home.

True Grizzlies fans are fans all year round. When they aren’t cheering the Grizzlies on in The Grindhouse, they’re supporting their team from home. They are engaged on social media and eagerly await the next game or new season. Doulas are there for you inside the birth room and inside your living room. Postpartum doulas help you as you adjust to the long game of parenthood after you’re finished with the big event of giving birth. They can help you draft your playbook for those newborn days, work alongside you, and support you as you get to know the newest player on your team!

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Doulas and Grizzlies Fans are both parts of the bigger picture.

The Memphis Grizzlies don’t exist in a vacuum and neither do the fans! In addition to fans coming to games and tuning in from home, the Grizzlies have a larger support network. There are coaches, managers, the FedEx Forum, the mascot Grizz, The Grizz Girls, The Grizz Line, The Grizz Grannies and Grandpas, marketing experts, media gurus, and many other support staff that work to help the team be the best they can be and to ensure that fans can have the best experience possible. That’s what doulas do. We exist in the context of your support network that includes friends and family, OBGYNs, nurses, pediatricians, and lactation specialists. You are the star of the show and we work with your team towards a common goal so that you can have the best experience possible for you.

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!

 

 

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!

Big Brave Dog: on finding strength

Never in my life did I think that a quote from Rugrats would enter my birth room.  And yet, when I think back to the birth of my first child, my mind’s eye goes to the image of Suzie and Angelica fighting over Chuckie as he sits terrified at the top of the big kid slide.

For me, my “slide” was the emergency cesarean I faced. I was terrified. This was not how I planned my birth! This was not the birth I wanted, but here I was.

slide strength
The view from the top

“You’re a big brave dog.”

I’ll be honest with you: it would have so very easy to give into the fear and I almost did. Even though I was a nurse and had attended hundreds of cesarean births, I was still afraid in that moment. Then my husband did something to shake me out of it. He leaned down and whispered in my ear, “You’re a big brave dog.”

All of a sudden, I had a choice. I could give into the fear or I could be a big brave dog.

Those words stuck. I repeated them over and over throughout my cesarean. Each time I said ‘I’m a big brave dog,” the fear melted a bit more and my inner strength came out.
In that moment, I made the choice to speak power into my fear and less-than-ideal circumstances. There may be a time during your birth where you find yourself at the top of the proverbial slide and in need of some strength to help you go down it. It doesn’t matter if your slide is a cesarean, an induction, or epidural, or even when the time comes to push your baby out.

The good news is that while we don’t always have control over our circumstances during labor and birth, we DO have control over the way we speak to ourselves. You can make choices in that moment to speak fear, or to speak power and strength.

As doulas, we help you dig deep and find the power and strength that was there all along.  Maybe your phrase isn’t,  “I’m a big brave dog”-  maybe for you it’s, “I’m a rockstar,” “I’m doing the best thing for my baby,” “I can trust my doctor and medical team,” or “I am powerful.” Take that phrase, and like Chuckie from Rugrats, allow that to propel you through your fear and down your slide.

We’ll be right here with you, waiting at the bottom.

Authored by Lindsey Hanna

Get to know your Memphis doula!

March 22-28 is World Doula Week, and this week on the blog Doulas of Memphis is taking the World Doula Week Blog Challenge hosted by Louisville Area Doulas! Today’s topic is getting to know the doula… the Memphis doula, that is!

Memphis doula
We think each Doulas of Memphis doula is pretty great, if we do say so ourselves!

Anyone can read a bio on a website, but what’s the fun in that? We asked each Doulas of Memphis doula a few questions about things that really matter ;).

Memphis doulaAbby Powell | Memphis doula, birth and postpartum

If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
My superpower would be the ability to freeze time! I would get more sleep, get my housework done, and have more time to snuggle my precious babies. Did I mention the whole more sleep part?!

What’s your favorite comfort food?
This is a little different, but on a bad day I love Ethiopian food! Veggie combo with some homemade cheese and that sour injera bread…yum!

Give 18-year-old you a piece of advice.
Home management matters! Find a routine that works for you and stick with it.

memphis doulaLindsey Hanna | Memphis doula, birth

If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
If I had to choose one superpower I would pick teleportation. I don’t actually enjoy driving, it takes to long, and sometimes other drivers scare me. If I could teleport then I could just hop on over to the mothers day out to pick up my son or even go to Europe without the cost and time of flying.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Biscuits and gravy

Give 18-year-old you a piece of advice.
Stop worrying about fitting in and focus on your classes.

jessicaJessica Kostic | Memphis doula, birth and postpartum

If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
I’m also on team teleportation! I would use it to go grocery shopping because I hate unloading the cart into my cart then unloading it once I’m home. We also live in the second story of our building so steps are my worst enemy. Btw I’m the one who does the shopping so I do it all by my lonesome

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Mexican, mainly chimichangas

Give 18-year-old you a piece of advice.
Decide what you’re passionate about in life and try to make it your career.

memphis doulaKristina White | Memphis doula, birth

If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
My super power would be stopping a tantrum. I can easily predict them, but figuring out how to get one to end is another story. I’ve tried bribery, sweet talking, raising my voice, the list goes on. Nothing works!

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Huey’s cheese fries

Give 18-year-old you a piece of advice.
When in doubt, dont!

 

 

memphis doulaCammie Warren | Memphis doula, birth and postpartum

If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would want my superpower to be super human strength! Then I would be able to physically do anything and not get tired!

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Tomato basil soup

Give 18-year-old you a piece of advice.
Speak little, listen lots.