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.

Holidays and inducing labor

If you’re due around the holidays, you may have heard quips like, “Thanksgiving is not a medical indication for induction of labor!” The implication is that induction of labor rises around holidays and that physician convenience is to blame. We feel this language is damaging and a more nuanced approach is in order.

Having an estimated due date that falls close to a major holiday can come with its own set of challenges. When it comes to holidays and inducing labor, there are many factors at play, and physician convenience is usually at the bottom.

While many wouldn’t dream of inducing labor because of a holiday, there are others who see it as the best, most logical choice for their family.

So, why would someone induce labor around a major holiday?

holidays and inducing labor
Your medical team likes Thanksgiving as much as anyone, but they are committed to giving you the best care every day of the year.

Some women choose an induction before a holiday to ensure their primary physician will be there.

You researched your physician carefully and chose them because you felt like they were the best doctor for you. You trust them and have spent your entire pregnancy building a relationship with them and discussing your preferences. You feel you’ll get the best care from them. They know you and understand you, and it’s important to you that they are there to deliver your baby, but you know they won’t be in town for Thanksgiving (or another holiday). Elective inductions without a medical reason are discouraged before 39 weeks gestation, but if you’re on the cusp of your due date and have the okay from your physician to induce labor, then it’s a perfectly valid choice and one that we won’t judge you for.

Some women choose induction because they want/don’t want to have their baby on a specific holiday.

For some, the decision about holidays and inducing labor comes from a desire to have their baby on a specific holiday. The idea of a Thanksgiving or Christmas baby is special to them. For others, it’s the exact opposite, and they don’t want their child to feel overshadowed on their birthday because of the holiday. If you’ve got a New Year’s baby on the way, taxes can be a huge issue for families as well. All of these are valid choices when they are made with your physician.

Some women choose to induce before a holiday so they can spend that holiday at home.

The desire not to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other major holiday in the hospital is certainly understandable. You might choose to induce before a holiday to ensure that you can be home with your family, propped up on the couch with your newborn with a plate of your favorite comfort food in your hands.

Some women induce around a holiday because they know they will have lots of family support.

Not everyone has family locally, and a woman may choose to induce around a holiday so that her out-of-town family can meet the baby and that there will be plenty of help to go around. Once your family heads back home, our postpartum doulas make the perfect holiday gift and can always pick up where your family left off.

Even if you aren’t concerned about holidays and inducing labor, know that the doctors and hospital staff are there to support you every day of the year, even on holidays.

Your doctors and nurses have dedicated years of their lives to learning how to care for you during your pregnancy and birth. Whether they work in a group or solo practice, they all understand that holiday births are part of the job. Many physicians work in group practices and know ahead of time when their call schedule falls on a major holiday, and they are ready to come to you in the same way your birth doula is ready to come to you, day or night.

At Doulas of Memphis, we support your decisions for your birth and respect the relationships and choices you make with your trusted physicians. Our opinion on holidays and inducing labor? We don’t have one outside of the choice that you feel is best for you.

 

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

The Doulas of Memphis Difference

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, we’ve been challenged to tell you all about something that makes us different.

Doulas of Memphis Difference

If you spend any amount of time on our website, you’ll see that we are different. We’re an agency and that’s different. Our birth doulas work in teams and that’s different. We go on call from the moment you sign your contract and that’s different. We can provide round-the-clock postpartum care, we have the most availability, we have uniform training through ProDoula, we’re not an advocacy group, we’re building sustainability through our business model, we’re invested in our community, and yeah, that’s all different, and yes, we’re proud of all the things we have to offer you. But…

All of that is great, but it isn’t what makes Doulas of Memphis the best doula services in Memphis. We are the best doula services in Memphis because our business is built not around an ideology, but around YOU, the client.

Traditionally, has been approached from the framework of helping women achieve greater success in their attempts at natural childbirth, also known as unmedicated childbirth. You hire a doula to help you bypass that epidural, unless of course something happens and it becomes “medically necessary.” There are studies that suggest doulas can help lower the cesarean rate, decrease interventions, and promote shorter labors. The problem with those studies is that they are just that- studies that look at populations and not individuals.

We are grateful for the women who have come before us to put doulas on the map and to get the word out about what we do. We work to carry on their tradition of supporting women through birth and the postpartum period, but Doulas of Memphis was founded based not around an ideal of a birth without interventions, but around the support that modern women in Memphis are craving.

The truth is that the vast majority of women in this city are not having the unmedicated vaginal deliveries that the doulas of the past traditionally supported. We feel at Doulas of Memphis that if we base our support around that standard, we are doing women a disservice.  A woman who wants an epidural, chooses a “wait-and-see” approach to pain relief,  chooses an elective induction, trusts her doctor and values safety over the experience,  or chooses a cesarean birth can benefit from the support of a doula equally as much as someone who wants a natural birth.

Our clients come from different backgrounds and have different values and expectations surrounding childbirth, and we value them all. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again:

We’re not here for an experience. We’re here for YOU.

We’ll never hang up the phone or leave your side because you choose an epidural. We value the doctor-patient relationship and believe you are capable of choosing the birth team and making the choices that are best for you. We leave your clinical care to those who are most qualified and keep our focus instead on your emotional well-being. We aren’t invested in your parenting choices, whether you choose to circumcise or not, or if you decide that it’s best for your family if you take a more scheduled approach. We’re invested in YOU, the client. You, the woman who is more than someone giving birth or a mom with spit-up on your shirt after a rough night.  We are invested in getting to know you as individuals so that we can be the best doula in Memphis for YOU.  

If you’ve never considered hiring a doula in Memphis because you thought they were only for a certain type of birth or parenting style, we’d love for you to reconsider and  give us a call! We want to hear from you and learn about your needs and how we can support and serve your family.

That’s the Doulas of Memphis difference. We hope to hear from you soon!

To read blogs from other contributors to the World Doula Week Blog Challenge, visit http://louisvilleareadoulas.com/blog/2016-world-doula-week

 

Who is the best OBGYN in Memphis?

As a doula, I am frequently asked or am privy to some variation of the question, “Who is the best OBGYN in Memphis?” Variations include:

What do you know about Dr. XYZ?
Has anyone had a totally intervention-free birth with Dr. XYZ?
Does Dr. XYZ induce at 41 weeks like my current OB?
Can anyone tell me who their favorite OB is and why?
Have any of you had a VBAC in Memphis with Dr. XYZ?
I’m new in town and need a new OB. Who do you recommend?
Have you ever worked with Dr. XYZ? What are they like?

Then come the responses. ALL of the responses. The asker soon finds themselves inundated with options, choices, and opinions, and may be left feeling more confused than before she asked. The truth is, it’s a loaded question. People choose their OBGYNs for a variety of reasons, some of which they may or may not disclose, and their answers don’t tell you what that doctor-patient relationship would look like for you.

best obgyn in memphis

Where crowdsourcing falls short


Although crowdsourcing can be a great way to procure a list of options, there isn’t one single best OBGYN in Memphis. When you see an OBGYN for your pregnancy and birth, you are receiving care that is highly individualized. Your doctor is looking at your individual pregnancy and health history and drawing from their knowledge and experience to give you the best care they can. Perhaps you consulted with that doctor people are raving about and left feeling underwhelmed- the doctor who was perfect for your sister or best friend may not be what you need at all, and that’s okay!


How to find the best OBGYN in Memphis…for you

Aside from insurance considerations, the top three things to consider when choosing an OBGYN are personal connection, communication style, and similar values surrounding pregnancy and birth. Let’s break it down:

Personal connection: This isn’t priority #1 for everyone, but it’s something to consider. If you value one-on-one care, a solo or smaller practice may better suit your needs than a larger group with a rotating call schedule. If you choose a larger group, do you feel comfortable with each doctor in the practice?

Communication style: Does the doctor you choose take the time to listen and understand your questions and concerns, or do you feel like you’re talking past each other? Do you know that you can always get the answers you need to make important decisions about your care? Finding an OB who speaks your language is important!

Similar values: Think about the things that are most important to you for this pregnancy and birth. Write them down if you feel the need. Different doctors have different passions, strengths, and perspectives. Ask them how they typically handle things that matter to you, like freedom of movement, inductions, post dates, pushing and delivery positions, TOLAC, modesty, cervical checks, monitoring, fluids, cord clamping, skin-to-skin, any health conditions you already have, cesareans, postpartum depression and anxiety…their answers will tell you a lot about their individual practice style and can inform your choices.


There’s no magic formula for choosing an OBGYN, but finding one that you are comfortable with, speaks your language, and shares your values? That’s where the magic happens.

Everybody has a birth plan

birth plan
Birth plans are common enough nowadays that “Do you have a written birth plan?” has made the list of intake questions when you check in at the hospital. You see people asking for birth plan examples in mommy groups, and you might be wondering, “Wait, do I even need one of these?!”

Well, yes and no.

The truth is that everybody has a birth plan. We all come into birth with some preconceived notion of how it’s going to go. You might be expecting a “natural” or unmedicated birth, or you might know you want the epidural as fast as they can get it to you. You might be open to a more wait-and-see approach where you know that relief is there if you need it. You might already know that you will be induced or are going to have a scheduled cesarean. You may trust your doctor wholeheartedly and your plan is to show up and go with the flow. All of these are valid options!

How does a doula help me with my birth plan?

Whether or not you write your birth plan down is completely up to you. Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t a “must” to bring a written birth plan to the hospital. Plenty of women have beautiful birth experiences and leave the birth plan at home, and others feel better having it packed in their bag and ready to go. When you hire Doulas of Memphis for your birth, we spend time during our prenatal visit talking through your plan for birth. This is our time to get to know all of your wishes and preferences, and help you sift through all of your options. We are familiar with your birthplace and can tell you what’s commonplace and what you should discuss with your doctor prior to birth. If you like, we can provide you with a Birth Preferences template and help you get your thoughts on paper. This is our time with you to make sure we are on the same page and to learn how we can best meet your needs. If that changes during labor, we’re great at rolling with it and meeting you in that moment. You’re never chained to the paper with us and your birth plan is not a standard to which we hold you. It’s simply a tool for you to be able to gain confidence in communicating your wishes and desires with each other, your doula, your doctor, and any hospital staff you come into contact with.

The most important kind of birth plan

The most important kind of birth plan is the one that you’ve communicated with your birth team. Birth comes with a bit of unpredictability, so focusing on your overall goals and remaining flexible is key. Your doctor and nurses want you to have a safe, healthy delivery and a positive experience. You should never be afraid to ask for what you need — they’re there to help you and to explain why if they are unable to accommodate a particular wish on your list. While they work to keep things running smoothly, your doula is there to attend to your other non-medical needs. Even if your plans change, our support for you never will.

If you’d like to hear more about adding a doula to your birth team, give us a call!