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!

 

 

 

How we talk to pregnant women matters

The internet is rife with lists instructing us in the finer points of talking to pregnant women. Some are downright hilarious, while others touch on important issues about the emotional minefield that is body image. The consensus? Don’t talk or comment about women’s bodies. Don’t ask invasive questions about women’s bodies. Don’t touch them without permission, pregnant or not. Women are more than their bodies.

pregnant women

The problem is that even though we agree that women are more than their bodies, our society tends to assign pregnant women identity based on their physical condition. We put them on pedestals and teach them from the moment that they announce their pregnancies that it’s not about them anymore.

It’s not just about a list of dos and don’ts, it’s about the fact that their worth in our eyes is because of their body and what it’s doing, not because of who they are as people. It’s far too easy to leave the pregnant woman herself in the dust in our eagerness to celebrate the blessing of a new life and a growing family, and this has unintended consequences.

It’s not about her anymore, so we get uncomfortable when she doesn’t enjoy pregnancy. When it’s hard and she’s sick and she loves her baby but wishes this part could be over already.

We get uncomfortable when she finds out the baby’s gender, only to experience gender disappointment when it’s not the girl she desperately wanted. We get uncomfortable when she doesn’t fit the Hallmark picture in our minds of someone who is happy, healthy, and glowing. We get uncomfortable when she doesn’t fit the caricature of the hormonal creature who can’t even unless she gets the ice cream she’s craving.

Pregnancy is a special time, but a woman is only pregnant for about 40 weeks. If we don’t treat women during pregnancy like the whole, complex people that they are outside of pregnancy, we set them up for a HUGE letdown postpartum. Nobody puts a woman who just gave birth on a pedestal.

But we should.

In addition to a baby, we celebrate the woman who is becoming a mother. When we reduce a woman down to her pregnancy, we miss out on the beautiful person that she is all the time. The woman who has gifts and talents and qualities worth celebrating all the time. The things that make her a great mom not because she had a baby, but because those things have always been there.

So the next time you see a pregnant woman, remember that how you talk to her matters. It matters a lot.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is not morning sickness

May 15th is Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day, and we’d like to shed light on this debilitating condition that affects some women during pregnancy.

hyperemesis gravidarum
While common remedies like ginger and lemon may help with nausea during pregnancy, they are not helpful for women with hyperemesis gravidarum.

Most women will experience some form of morning sickness during their pregnancy.

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, commonly referred to as “morning sickness,” typically begins around 6 weeks and ends sometime in the second trimester. In addition to nausea and vomiting, women may experience aversions to certain types of food or smells. Remedies for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy vary by individual and culture. Many women are eager to share what worked for them, but one woman’s saving grace might send another woman running to the bathroom in disgust.

hyperemesis gravidarum
Nobody likes unsolicited advice.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, on the other hand, is NOT morning sickness. Women with hyperemesis gravidarum have nausea and vomiting that does not subside, and can be dangerous to both mother and baby if left untreated.

According to the Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation, hyperemesis gravidarum is defined as:

…a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids. If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with:

  • loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%)
  • dehydration and production of ketones
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • metabolic imbalances
  • difficulty with daily activities

It is important to seek treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum right away. Find a provider who is understanding and can help you get the access to the care you need.

If you are pregnant and are unable to keep food down, suspect dehydration, or experience dizziness when you walk, contact your doctor immediately. You may need to receive IV fluids or other medications in order to keep the nausea under control. Some severe cases require hospitalization, a PICC line, a Zofran pump, and even home health care. Communication with your doctor about your symptoms is hugely important!

If you are close to someone struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum, it is important to remember that she is not exaggerating or trying to get attention. She is suffering and needs your ongoing help, patience, and support.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is greatly misunderstood and can be extremely isolating to those who suffer from it. Some women even experience PTSD after surviving hyperemesis gravidarum. These women are survivors and they sacrifice much for the health of their babies.

Believe her. Ask her how she’s doing. Show up. Keep showing up. Show up some more. Help with older siblings. Listen. Help around the house. Remind her that she isn’t alone and that there is an end in sight. 

hyperemesis gravidarum

If you or a loved one is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum here in Memphis, Doulas of Memphis can help. Our postpartum doulas can provide antepartum doula care during pregnancy, are able to support you through birth, and are ready to help after baby is here as you work towards getting back to normal. Call us at (901) 308-4888 or use our contact form to reach us online, and let us know how we can support your family.

If only I had a doula while dealing with infertility (a ProDoula challenge)

This is part 2 of a two-part blog series titled, “If only I had a doula.” ProDoula, the certification agency used by Doulas of Memphis, issued a blog challenge to write about a time where we could have used the support of a doula. Today, our own Lindsey Hanna talks about her struggle with infertility.

Lindsey and Thor, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes the baby in the baby carriage… I remember singing that song as a child, don’t you? That’s how I expected life to go, but as things often happen that’s not how my life worked out.

infertility, baby carriage


Infertility

Even the sight of the word hurts my heart. I vividly remember every negative pregnancy test, every office visit, and every question as to why we hadn’t had kids yet. Every month my heart would break as the period didn’t come but the tests screamed NEGATIVE. I was barely keeping it together as everyone told me to “just relax” or to start the adoption paperwork and it would all work out.

In it for the long haul

After two years of trying, I was finally referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Numerous tests later I finally got a diagnosis: PCOS. It explained everything, the lack of periods, the extra weight around the middle, and most of all the infertility. I thought getting the answer would fix it, and it did help that I knew what was wrong, but even then the treatments weren’t working. I felt like my body had failed me. Another test, you need to try IUI… failed. Another IUI…failed. Another test, you need surgery…

I was ready to give up

Thankfully my husband wasn’t ready to throw in the towel quite yet. IUI number three worked. It had taken another 8 months to finally see this…

pregnant after infertility

 


If I’d only had a doula

My husband tried to understand the best he could, but he never really understood how deeply it cut me each month. My mom even tried to step in and help. They both spent many an hour with me as I cried. I needed a doula to get me through not only the months, but the hours. A doula would have recommended a reproductive endocrinologist long before I thought to see one two years in. She would have sat with me as I cried so I wasn’t alone on the floor of my bathroom each month. She would have reminded me that I wasn’t alone, even though more than anything that’s how I felt. My doula would have reminded me that just because I couldn’t have a baby it didn’t mean I was a horrible wife and worthless woman. Oh, how I wish I’d known a doula for my infertility journey!

My journey through infertility was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go though and it’s still not over. A part of me wishes that I didn’t have that in my past, but another part is glad I do, because it has helped to make me the person I am. Because of my experience with infertility, I have so much more compassion for other women, no matter their situation. I’ve learned to be more careful of the words I speak, because you never know what the person on the other end of those words is dealing with.

Authored by Lindsey Hanna

If you are dealing with infertility, please know that you are not alone. Doulas of Memphis is here for you if you’d like to reach out for support and/or resources.