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.

Do I need a doula with VBAC experience?

doula with vbac experience

 

VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean, is increasing in popularity and is a viable option for many women who have experienced a prior cesarean. Many VBAC hopefuls seek out the support of a doula and in turn might ask the question, “Do I need a doula with VBAC experience?”

The short answer is no, but more important than the desire for a doula with VBAC experience is the reasoning behind the request. While for some this may be strictly personal preference, which is valid in its own right, others ask for this because they feel that a doula with VBAC experience is more likely to possess certain qualities that are important to them. Attempting a TOLAC, or trial of labor after cesarean, often comes with a wide range of emotions and special considerations for the birthing woman, and it is important that her doula is well-equipped to support her. If you’re looking for the best doula for VBAC in Memphis, be on the lookout for these qualities:

1. Is your doula educated about VBAC and equipped to support both vaginal and cesarean birth?

Even if your doula has not attended a VBAC, she should be aware of what the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ current recommendations are surrounding TOLAC and VBAC. Staying current on this information is part of ProDoula’s certification process, and all Doulas of Memphis doulas are educated on this topic. Our doulas have also been trained by ProDoula to support both vaginal and cesarean birth without judgment or bias. We’ll never speak to you negatively about your previous births, or even about cesareans in general.

2. Does your doula support your goals for a VBAC? What if those goals change?

During your pregnancy and labor, your doula is your biggest cheerleader on your road to a VBAC. She is there to listen, validate concerns, and to help you navigate the many choices you must make. Most women who are undergoing a TOLAC will go on to have a succesful VBAC, but this is not always the case. Our doulas will encourage you and support you unconditionally, even if your goals and plans change. Your goals are important to us because they are important to you, and we’ll never define you by your mode of delivery!

3. Will your doula be able to tune in to your physical and emotional needs during labor?

VBAC often comes with more challenges than a normal vaginal delivery, both physically and emotionally. It is far more important to have a doula who can stay attuned to your needs than it is to have a doula with VBAC experience. You want a team of doulas who is fully focused on you and what you need in the moment, not on achieving a certain outcome. We want you to feel supported at all times, whether you need extra encouragement or physical support. It’s always about you and your needs!

The best doula for VBAC in Memphis is knowledgeable, supportive of your goals, and attuned to you. At Doulas of Memphis, we are committed to providing The Gold Standard for labor support in Memphis. Contact us today and tell us your story!

 

 

The Cesarean Doula

Traditionally, doulas have been associated with midwives and home birth or unmedicated “natural” birth, which is great if that’s the type of birth you’re planning, but what about everyone else? A Doulas of Memphis birth doula happily supports ALL kinds of hospital births. Need an epidural doula? Induction doula? Planning a c-section and looking for a cesarean doula? We’ve got you covered.

cesarean doula memphis
Memphis cesarean doula support in action.

What is a cesarean doula, anyway?

A cesarean doula is a trained birth doula who is supporting you through a cesarean. There’s no official title or special certification for a cesarean doula: all of our Doulas of Memphis doulas are trained through ProDoula, and that training encompasses how to support someone through this type of birth that roughly 1 in 3 birthing women experience. That’s not a small minority, and we feel strongly that cesarean moms deserve the same level of support as any other birthing woman!

Women have cesareans for many reasons, but whatever the reason, cesarean birth falls into two categories: planned or unplanned.

The cesarean doula and the planned cesarean

Can you hire a doula if you’re having a planned cesarean? Absolutely! After all, there’s an entire pregnancy that leads up to those few hours surrounding your baby’s birth, and then the need for support continues. If you are having a planned cesarean in Memphis and want the support of a doula, we are on call and available to you 24/7 the same as any other kind of birth. We’re there for you throughout your pregnancy to provide emotional support, answer questions, connect you with resources, and to be excited for you as you anticipate your little one’s arrival! Your doulas will talk through your plans for your birth,  and even help you plan for when baby comes home. Hopefully everything goes on schedule and according to plan, but if for any reason your cesarean date changes, your doulas are on call and ready to come at a moment’s notice.

On the day of your baby’s birth, your on-call doula will meet you at the hospital and stay with you through the pre-op process, helping you and your partner get comfortable while you wait to go back to the OR. In most Memphis hospitals, only one support person may go back with you. Unless you have discussed otherwise with your OBGYN and anesthesiology team, your doula will wish you luck and greet you after your baby is born. In the recovery room, she will be there to assist you with breastfeeding, support you physically through any discomfort you may be feeling, and will be available to take care of any other little needs you have. After you are home, your doulas will come for a follow-up visit to see how you’re doing and to answer any newborn questions you may have.

The cesarean doula and the unplanned cesarean

If you’ve hired a team of Doulas of Memphis doulas to support you through your birth, know that we are here for you and will provide continuous, unwavering support regardless of how you give birth. If plans change and you wind up giving birth by cesarean when you anticipated a vaginal delivery, our support stays the same. We will stay with you as long as we are allowed to physically support you, help you process any feelings and provide encouragement that you’re making the best choice for you and your baby right now. We’ll never make you feel like less of a mom because of the way you give birth because we believe birth is an achievement no matter what! We will never abandon you because of the choices you make or the outcome of your birth. We’re there to support YOU. Your doula will meet you in recovery and assist you the same as she would for a planned cesarean delivery, and you will receive the same postpartum visit.

Postpartum doulas and cesarean recovery

Whether you anticipated your cesarean birth or not, a Doulas of Memphis postpartum doula can be a tremendous asset to you as you recover from surgery while tending to your new baby. Our postpartum doulas help lighten the load so you can focus on bonding with your baby and your healing. We’ll take care of the little things and the household tasks and are available to help with baby care, basic breastfeeding or bottle feeding support, and to be a listening ear for you if you need to talk about your birth or ask questions about your recovery. Doulas of Memphis is proud to offer continuity of care in the form of birth and postpartum doulas.

If hiring a doula for your cesarean sounds right for you, contact us or give us a call at (901) 308-4888 and tell us how we can meet your needs!

 

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!