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


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?


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

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

What's a round ligament anyway?

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

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

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

What can I do about round ligament pain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

"I'm only 3 cm dilated."

"It's been six hours, and I've only progressed 1 cm."

"I'm only in early labor and not active labor like I thought."

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

"I've only been at __cm for 8 hours. Does this mean I have to have a cesarean?"

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

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

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

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

and finally...

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

The dangers of "labor math"

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

What if my labor stops?

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

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

Memphis Baby Registry | Boutique Week

Welcome to Boutique Week!

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

memphis baby registry

But first...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boutique Week posts:


Introducing Mia Peake

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

Mia Peake

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

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

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

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

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

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