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?

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.

What babies and tornadoes have in common

‘Tis the season for tornadoes in Memphis, Tennessee, that time of year where we don our rain boots and do our best to “Respect the Polygon.” It’s a part of life around here, both natural and a bit unsettling at times... ...kind of like having a baby.

Stay with me here. While having a baby isn’t terrifying or devastating in the way a tornado can be, they do have a lot in common.

tornadoes, babies

Tornadoes are unpredictable

While most tornadoes follow a pattern from southwest to northeast, we can never know exactly which course they will take, how strong they will be, or what they will leave in their wake. Giving birth is similar. While most labors follow a general pattern, there is plenty of room for variation. Contractions speed up or slow down, labors stall and labors come on fast and furious. With labor comes periods of anticipation and watchful waiting. We can’t always trust that nothing will go wrong, but we can have great respect for the power behind birth. All of this is natural and normal, even in its unpredictability. You never know what kind of baby you have until they are here, and you never can be totally sure what they’ll do next. A baby who sleeps her newborn days away might all of a sudden decide sleeping isn’t her thing (don’t worry, we can help!). A routine that worked last week might need a complete overhaul as your baby hits a new milestone in his development.

Tornadoes can turn your world upside down

I’ve been fortunate to have been around tornadoes my whole life, but have never had firsthand experience with the life-altering devastation they can cause. Babies are blessings and don’t shake up our worlds in the same way tornadoes do, but one thing you can count on is that your whole life will be different. In the same way that a tornado doesn’t always pass over your city without incident, birth can sometimes be difficult and sometimes babies need extra help before they can go home. Perhaps a new baby at your home has affected your relationship with your spouse in ways you weren’t expecting. Maybe postpartum depression wasn’t part of the plan, but here you are, picking up the pieces with a little one in tow. Just as we reach out for help in the face of natural disasters outside our control, it’s important to remember that if things don’t go as planned, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to see your therapist, to call your doctor, to reach out to friends and family who care about you! If you don’t know where to go, ask your doula for help and she’ll connect you with a referral to get the help you need.

You can prepare for tornadoes and you can prepare for babies

In the same way that we create safe spaces and plans of action for when bad weather arises, we can create safe spaces and plans of action for when baby comes. Sure, a “go bag” has a different meaning when you’re talking about an outing with a newborn, but the concept is the same. By taking the time to think through your plan of action for birth and postpartum, you can be better prepared for whatever your own little tornado throws your way. Babies are unpredictable both in their arrival and their behavior, but we can still create safe spaces for ourselves. In addition to surrounding yourself with friends and family, a doula can help you navigate the unpredictably of birth and new parenthood and provide you with a soft place to land. We want to be there for you and help you the best we can as you stretch, grow, and gain confidence!

 

Everybody has a birth plan

birth planBirth 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!