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.

They don’t make doulas for this | Guest Post

So, you’ve received the news.

You need surgery on your right eye. It’s been turning inside and you’ve tried various prescriptions from multiple optometrists, but after nothing helped you went to an ophthalmologist and her expert evaluation was swift and sure.

You’ve had one surgery before, but it was very different than this one, years ago, and you can barely remember. However, after listening to the explanations you feel confident that this is what you need, though you admit to those closest to you that you’re scared and wish it wasn’t necessary. When you give your family the news, they’re very supportive. You tell them you get to go to the hospital and have a long nap and then get to stay home from school for a week.

Oh. Did I mention you’re only 7 years old?

This is the reality for my oldest daughter, Ella, right now.

At first, the news seemed quite alarming and incredibly ill timed. I am attempting to get a new business up and running, while selling my house and still keeping my family well taken care of. Now this? But as we inch closer to that looming surgery date, I’m coming to realize that it’s not about timing. I don’t have control over when things like this happen. All I can do is face them as they come, arm myself with knowledge when I’m able and trust my own ability to handle it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my few short decades on this Earth, it’s that humans are amazingly strong and incredibly adaptable.

I’ve also realized that there’s really no such thing as “good timing” when it comes to your child needing a medical procedure.

My training as a doula has actually helped me a lot in the last few weeks as I help my daughter through each emotion she faces about her upcoming surgery. So, in that sense, I’ve been glad of the timing.

With everything that’s happening in my life right now, I dearly wish to have someone to walk me through all of this. Someone who has been trained and is knowledgeable about the surgery.

Someone to talk to about the tumultuous emotions constantly changing and moving, but always hidden beneath the calm exterior.

Someone to listen, even if they say nothing, and acknowledge the difficulty.

Someone who won’t judge my tears or try to convince me not to shed them.

Maybe even someone to help with the day to day mechanics of keeping a household from falling into chaos.

And don’t get me wrong. I have a family. A very loving and supportive family. I have friends that I talk to on a regular basis. But, well…

They are all living their lives. They are busy. They have their own struggles. Some of them are caring for their own families and working their jobs. And let’s be honest, some of them don’t understand in the slightest what I am going through as a mom.

As my own unique person experiencing this in my own unique way.

Also, in my case, most of them are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. My husband works full time (and then some) and I have more than Ella to care for. I a toddler and a preschooler who need me, a house to keep up, a family to take care of.

Let’s breakdown my reality for a moment: surprising news, intimidating change, doctors’ visits, happy family, lots of decisions… Sound a bit familiar?

I need a doula.

If you know of a Strabismus Surgery Doula, please send me his or her information… Yeah, there is no such thing. But feeling the desire, experiencing the need in my life right now, do you know what it really fuels inside me? My desire to help.

I cannot change my daughter’s need for surgery. So I will use these difficulties and challenges to grow as a person, as a mom and as a doula. Though the circumstances for my changes and the changes a new family faces are different, a lot of the emotions are the same. Being a parent isn’t all sunshine and daisies, whether you’re 7 months pregnant or your child is 7 and facing surgery.

The good news for expecting parents or new families is, there are people who literally make it their job to help and support them through those emotions and the difficult times (and even celebrate the happy ones).

We call them “doulas.”

 

Jen Southern is an affiliated doula with Doulas of Memphis. Her experiences with facing challenges with her own children have helped shape her into the compassionate, understanding, and empathetic doula she is today. 

One Word for Moms in 2017

Disillusioned with the concept of the New Year’s Resolution, there are many people who are adopting the idea of using one word as a theme or focus for the year. There’s a ton of appeal to this: it’s nonspecific, doesn’t involve empty promises, and emphasizes growth and self-improvement in a much more holistic sort of way. In addition to whatever one word you have chosen for yourself, here’s our word for the moms and moms-to-be out there: ENOUGH. Why did we choose it? Well…

one word

In 2017, we challenge you to see yourself as enough.

Not “good enough” in the sense of aspiring to mediocrity, but that you, just as you are, are enough. That you, yes you, are exactly what your family needs. You are enough as a parent. You are the best mom for your baby. You have everything you need to parent well. You don’t need to be “good enough’ because you ARE enough.

Say “enough” when people try to make you feel small.

You’re not small. You are wonderful and worthwhile. Your voice matters. You have great ideas. You matter and you’re important. If I sound like I’m quoting The Help, #sorrynotsorry because really and truly, YOU have value. You are more than your circumstances, you are more than your failures, and you’re even more than your successes.

Say “enough” to the pressure to measure up.

Other moms. Other wives. Other women. Pinterest. Whatever it’s tempting to compare yourself to and bemoan the fact that you aren’t quite there, say “enough.” You don’t need to measure up to someone else’s ideal or standard. Set goals and work for them because you love yourself, not because you think it will make someone love you or value you more.

You’re enough, but you don’t have to go it alone.

Asking for help, leaning on your village, and relying on others doesn’t change the fact that you’re enough just as you are. Being enough doesn’t mean you never need support from the people around you. It means that your worth isn’t defined by that need. We all get by with a little help from our friends (and sometimes a little help from a doula or two), and unrealistic expectations need not apply. You’re enough, mama. You’re enough, friend. You’re enough, sister. You’re enough, daughter. You’re enough, wife. Say it until you believe it, girl.

Our one word for you this year is “enough,” but we’d also love to hear what you have in mind for 2017! Share with us in the comments, and have a Happy New Year!

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.

5 Things I Know About Online Friends | Guest Blog

In this day and age our relationships look a little different than they used to. Our circle is wider, more extensive, and we no longer have to rely on only our jobs and local hangouts to meet people and strike up friendships. A lot of us are meeting our partners online, so why would our friendships be any different?

Never underestimate the power of online friends!
Never underestimate the power of online friends!

I am no stranger to online friendships. For the past several years, most of my closest friends have lived in my computer! It can be hard at times, but I consider myself a bit of an expert at this point. So here are 5 things I know about online friends:

1. They’re just as real as face-to-face friendships.

Sometimes people can make you feel like your online friendships aren’t as legitimate as face-to-face ones. But they are! Remember, that’s not just a computer you’re talking to, there’s a real person behind that profile. And isn’t the most legitimate type of friend one that makes you feel supported and loved, no matter where they live?

2. There are tons of different ways to communicate with online friends.

IMG_1998You have a plethora of options with which to communicate, depending on your personality and preferences. Do you like to Facebook chat while you’re feeding the baby? Maybe you like seeing their face, so Skype or Google hangouts are more your style. Or if talking on the phone with little ones is a challenge, the voice message feature can be the best of both worlds. You can post funny stuff on their Timeline. And have you seen the new Snapchat filters today?!

 

3. Your online friends don’t care if you’re a hot mess today.

You can talk to them without a bra. Or in only a bra. Or with your hair a mess. Whatever, your online friends don’t care! They’re just happy to hear from you. You never feel like you have to impress them.

4. Online friends are there whenever you need them.

Even if they aren’t always online, having their profile readily available at all times makes it really feel like they are always there. When you’re up feeding the baby again, you can send your BFF a message because you know she’ll see it soon. And sometimes you might abuse this just slightly by treating your messages like your own personal journal… but it’s all good, because you know they’ve got your back.

5. Any time spent face-to-face with your online friends is the sweetest time ever.

On the rare occasion that you do get see your online friends face-to-face, it’s the best. They are SO happy to see you, because it’s been months or even years since you last hung out. Online friends know how to cherish time together because it’s so rare. They never take you for granted and you always part looking forward to the next time you can hang out!

We all need friends and support people in our lives. That need is even greater as mothers. We need people we can complain to, laugh with, cry with, love, and be loved by. They say it takes a village – it’s okay if your village is a virtual one.

Authored by: Brooke Duke, owner of Expecting Baby Doula Services. Brooke is a doula in Ames, Iowa. Check her out at www.expectingbabydoula.com.

 

Add a manual pump to your breastfeeding toolkit | Video and Tutorial

When it comes to pumping breast milk, it’s the age of the electric pump, but adding a manual pump to your breastfeeding toolkit is a good idea that makes for a great companion to your snazzy electric! In our YouTube series, Time Out with Doulas of Memphis, Abby gives the run-down on the handy (pun intended) manual pump!

The most common misconception surrounding the manual breast pump is that it is labor intensive. This is not true! Pumping with a manual is simple and yields a surprising amount of milk, and is convenient for date night, outdoor events, and times when you don’t want to be chained to an outlet. Manual pumps are easy to store and take along with you, and eliminate the need for an extra pumping bag. They are also easy to rinse and clean on the go.

If you’re a stay at home mom who only has the occasional pumping need, a manual pump could very well be the only pump you need! If you’re an exclusive pumper or a working mom who pumps full time, a manual pump is good to have for outings when you need to keep things light and simple. If you air on the side of discretion, it’s easy to throw on a nursing cover, pump, and go!

Photo Tutorial: How to store a manual pump for easy travel

Taking a manual pump with you is a breeze! You’ll need:

Gallon ziploc bag
Bottle
Cap
Pump body with valve and membrane attached
Pump handle with diaphragm attached
1-2 extra breast milk storage bags

manual pump
For easy travel that takes up minimal space in your bag

In your gallon ziploc back, place the storage bags in first and then the remaining parts on top in a row.

Your parts should only take up the bottom half of the bag.
Your parts should only take up the bottom half of the bag.

Next, squeeze out any air and fold the bag over.

This takes up WAY less space than simply putting the entire pump in your bag.
This takes up WAY less space than simply putting the entire pump in your bag.

Finally, slide the bag into your purse and enjoy your outing!

manual pump in bag

 

If you haven’t already, subscribe to our YouTube channel and comment with more Time Out ideas!

Have you ever used a manual pump? How did it compare to your expectations? Comment below and share your experience!

#worldbreastfeedingweek

 

 

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!

 

 

 

When awareness isn’t enough

MHM 2016 Social Media Images-Twitter ProfileThere’s an awareness day, week, or month for nearly everything these days, and mental health awareness is no exception. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year’s theme from Mental Health America is accompanied by the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike. Mental illness is one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized in our country, so it’s fitting that we talk about it in May and every other month of the year.

The problem with mental health awareness is that it’s not good enough for moms. Women struggling with perinatal mood disorders (PMADs) are one of the most minimized, dismissed, and marginalized groups out there when it comes to mental health. It’s time that we start taking a hard look at ourselves and how we treat moms when it comes to mental health.

Our villages of yesterday are all but nonexistent. Maternity leave in this country downright sucks. We prepare for birth but not the realities of motherhood. We make jokes about sleep deprivation but the reality is that not sleeping is not funny, and lack of sleep affects mental health in huge ways. We expect moms to bounce back in a few weeks, to breastfeed without trouble, to balance pumping and a full-time job. Working moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms (okay, actually moms period) feel pressure to keep up with household tasks, childcare, and somewhere in there you’re supposed to carve out some “me time.”

mental health awareness
Wine and coffee jokes are cliche for a reason.

There are entire websites devoted to using humor as a coping mechanism for how overwhelming motherhood can be. Wine and coffee jokes are cliche for a reason. It’s funny until you stop to think about how more moms than we’d like to admit struggle with alcohol abuse. With the systemic lack of support we give moms, it’s no surprise that many wind up exhausted, addicted, and barely staying afloat.

In addition to the profound lack of resources for moms struggling with mental health, we exacerbate the problem with they way we speak to moms. The fact that the mere word “postpartum” is synonymous with depression indicates a huge problem in our society.

When moms hear words like this from their friends, family, and partners…

“Oh, it’s just the baby blues. You’ll get over it.”

“You’re just really hormonal right now.”
“You just need to get out more.” 
“You’re home all day, so why can’t you get anything done?” 
“What do you mean, you don’t want to go outside?”
“Every new mom is exhausted. That’s part of life.”
“You should stop breastfeeding and go on medication.”
“My baby slept through the night at 2 months.”

…it’s no wonder there are message boards and groups galore full of

“I feel like I’m going crazy and nobody understands.”
“I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t leave the house by myself.”
“I’m exhausted and nobody helps me. My partner doesn’t understand what I’m going through.”
“I feel so lazy and stupid.”

“I don’t feel bonded to my baby.”
“I feel like a bad mom. My kids deserve better.”
“I’m having all of these thoughts and I’m too scared to tell anyone.”

It’s awful, isn’t it? Think of your wife, partner, sister, or friend. What do you do if they feel this way? Mallory Shannon, doula and owner of Kansas City Family Birth, says this about maternal mental health awareness:

We need to treat these mothers as victims because that’s truly what they are. They’re victims of a cold and faceless enemy who is trying to steal their joy, their energy, their life. When we stop looking at PMADs as just a “woman’s hormonal issue” and start looking at them as a threat to our partners we can truly start to make progress. Awareness isn’t enough. Action has to come with it.

Moms: you are not crazy, lazy, or stupid and you deserve to be taken seriously.

Partners, friends, and family: If a mom in your life tells you that something doesn’t feel right, believe her. Don’t write off her concerns and worries because the fact that she even told you about it shows courage and trust. Listen. Help her get the care she needs, whether it’s a few solid nights of sleep or a trip to the doctor.

Even in the face of inadequate resources, we have the power to treat mothers struggling with mental illness with the compassion and respect that they deserve. It starts with us making an effort not to minimize the struggles of others, even if you yourself cannot empathize. It starts with us taking maternal mental health seriously, because healthy, happy moms are what’s best for all of us.

 

 

 

Your doula

Things are different now from the way they used to be. In an ideal world, everyone would be so supported by their communities and “villages” that my job wouldn’t exist.

your doula
Your doula walks through pregnancy and birth with you.

But our world isn’t ideal- families live far away or are working, we’re stretched thin, we’re isolated, and it seems like everyone around us is busy. Not your doula. Your doula is not too busy because your doula is there for you.


We go to our doctor appointments and we wait an hour for ten to fifteen minutes of face time. Unless there’s something urgent on our minds, oftentimes our questions leave us in the moment, or we forgot to write them down, or we think of something on our way out the door. Who is there for us then? Who has answers, or knows how to get them? Google? Friends who may or may not understand? Our parents who gave birth in a totally different world? What if we just need to talk about something, and it’s not necessarily “doctor-worthy”? Your doula can help. She can listen, validate concerns, calm fears, help you think of questions, help you avoid Google and direct you to the best source for the answers you seek. She’ll never judge, never think you’re silly, and is a constant for you.

When we go to give birth, often it’s just us and our partners punctuated by hospital staff coming in and out at various intervals but never able to stay for very long. They care about you, but they are also focused on making sure your baby is healthy and safe. It seems as if nobody is there exclusively for you, not even your partner. He’s having a baby too, and his focus is divided between you and your baby. He has needs of his own that must be met as he tries to balance them with meeting your needs. What if he gets tired? Anxious? Hungry? As much as he wants to be, he cannot be there exclusively for you.

Your doula can. Your doula is the only one whose job it is to prioritize you and your needs. Everything she does revolves around you.

She is a buffer, someone who makes things easier for everyone around you. Her presence and support ensures that everyone around you can focus on their jobs because they know you are taken care of. She supports your partner by helping guide him in supporting you better. She can be the firm hands on your hips so that he can be the gentle voice in your ear.

She takes the pressure off of him to be everything and instead gives him the freedom to be himself, the one who loves you and the one you need in that moment.

Your doula is experienced in childbirth and knows how to anticipate your needs. You have work to do, and she helps you to make the most of it. Your doula knows what to say to give strength and encouragement to everyone around her, but especially you. After your baby is born, your doula rejoices with you and begins the work of adjusting pillows, snapping a few candids of those first moments (if you’d like, of course), and helping you as the rest of the world melts away and your world is now on your chest. She assists you as you settle in until she sees you breathe deep, that sigh that tells her that it’s time to slip away. Don’t worry, you’ll see her again at home soon, when she will sit down with you to answer your questions and talk about anything you need, whether it’s your birth or how beautiful your baby is.

When everyone else is there to see the baby, she is there to see you, because her work is making sure that you are cared for and that you know how important you are to her.

My Nanoo was a nurse

As told by Lindsey Hanna, co-owner of Doulas of Memphis

Nursing has always been a significant part of my life. My grandmother, whom we affectionately referred to Nanoo because little Lindsey couldn’t quite get out “Nana,” was a nurse. She was like another mom to me and had a significant role in my upbringing. My mother worked when I was small, and we were able to avoid daycare because of Nanoo. She had recently retired from 30+ years working as a nurse, and all of those years were spent in the Baptist system. She was my role model and the reason I became a nurse, too.

Being a nurse runs in the family

If nursing isn’t in our blood, it’s pretty close. Nanoo became a nurse because of her aunt, but not before waiting a couple of years after high school so that she and her sister would graduate at the same time. They were roommates in a big new city, and they jumped in and graduated from Baptist Nursing School (now known as Baptist College of Health Sciences) together in 1953. Here she is in 1955, getting ready:

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Fannie Zue Moore, aka “Zukie” getting ready to work as a nurse in May 1955

My turn


Nanoo was spunky and fiercely loyal to Baptist. She “guessed it was okay” that my aunt worked at St. Francis because “they ain’t no competition anyway.” When I was in nursing school at Baptist College of Health Sciences, the same college Nanoo went to, I mentioned to her that I was considering pediatrics and working at Lebonheur. She said, “That’s in that Methodist Corporation, isn’t it? I don’t want no granddaughter of mine working at Methodist!” Eventually she conceded because it was the only pediatrics hospital around. To be fair, Nanoo also said she would disown me if I ever got a tattoo. I still don’t have a tattoo, and I never embraced the Methodist rivalry, and that’s okay.

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Nanoo and her sister, Gracie

Good enough for me

She was funny and sharp as a tack, and one heck of a cook. The only milk I would ever drink was Nanoo’s milk, even though she got in the same jug from Kroger as the rest of my family. The rest of my family didn’t serve me milk in a chilled mason jar with a handle, and the rest of my family didn’t pour it quite like Nanoo did. Her cooking was “never good enough,” and she was always fussing about this or that detail that didn’t turn out quite right. It didn’t matter because we loved it. Biscuits and gravy, pot roast, cheesy potatoes, peanut butter pie, muscadine pie, strawberry fig jam were the smells of my childhood.

Just like my Nanoo

Nanoo had strong hands, hands that could peel boiled tomatoes, and if you ever had an ailment of any kind, she had the tools to fix it. She taught me to sew, to cook, to can tomatoes, to crochet, and when Nanoo taught you something, you went big or went home. My first sewing project was a reversible vest with pearl buttons, my first crochet project was a full sized afghan, and it’s no wonder that to this day I can’t do anything halfway. I looked like Nanoo, and wanted to be just like her, and that meant that I was going to be a nurse…in the Baptist system, of course.

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Nanoo with a hat that I crocheted for her

I worked as a nurse in restorative care for two years and labor and delivery for three years before the birth of my son, and Nanoo didn’t blame me for taking some time off to be a Mom. She patted me on the leg, which was her version of a great big hug, and said, “That’s all right. He needs you.” Nanoo was a nurse in a simpler time. Nurses had more time to sit and nurture their patients, to treat them like family. I never went back to nursing, but that nurturing spirit that my Nanoo had, fiesty as it was, led me from nurse to mom to doula.

Nurse Appreciation Week

Even though I’m not working as a nurse right now, I will never stop appreciating the work that nurses do. It will always be a part of who I am, and who my family is. If you haven’t recently, take the time to thank a nurse in your life not only for what they do, but for who they are. Show them that you see them, that you see their work, and that it matters to you. Because nurses matter to all of us. My Nanoo was a nurse, and my life will never be the same because of it.