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.

They don't make doulas for this | Guest Post

So, you’ve received the news.

You need surgery on your right eye. It’s been turning inside and you’ve tried various prescriptions from multiple optometrists, but after nothing helped you went to an ophthalmologist and her expert evaluation was swift and sure.

You’ve had one surgery before, but it was very different than this one, years ago, and you can barely remember. However, after listening to the explanations you feel confident that this is what you need, though you admit to those closest to you that you’re scared and wish it wasn’t necessary. When you give your family the news, they’re very supportive. You tell them you get to go to the hospital and have a long nap and then get to stay home from school for a week.

Oh. Did I mention you’re only 7 years old?

This is the reality for my oldest daughter, Ella, right now.

At first, the news seemed quite alarming and incredibly ill timed. I am attempting to get a new business up and running, while selling my house and still keeping my family well taken care of. Now this? But as we inch closer to that looming surgery date, I’m coming to realize that it’s not about timing. I don’t have control over when things like this happen. All I can do is face them as they come, arm myself with knowledge when I’m able and trust my own ability to handle it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my few short decades on this Earth, it’s that humans are amazingly strong and incredibly adaptable.

I’ve also realized that there’s really no such thing as “good timing” when it comes to your child needing a medical procedure.

My training as a doula has actually helped me a lot in the last few weeks as I help my daughter through each emotion she faces about her upcoming surgery. So, in that sense, I’ve been glad of the timing.

With everything that’s happening in my life right now, I dearly wish to have someone to walk me through all of this. Someone who has been trained and is knowledgeable about the surgery.

Someone to talk to about the tumultuous emotions constantly changing and moving, but always hidden beneath the calm exterior.

Someone to listen, even if they say nothing, and acknowledge the difficulty.

Someone who won’t judge my tears or try to convince me not to shed them.

Maybe even someone to help with the day to day mechanics of keeping a household from falling into chaos.

And don’t get me wrong. I have a family. A very loving and supportive family. I have friends that I talk to on a regular basis. But, well...

They are all living their lives. They are busy. They have their own struggles. Some of them are caring for their own families and working their jobs. And let’s be honest, some of them don’t understand in the slightest what I am going through as a mom.

As my own unique person experiencing this in my own unique way.

Also, in my case, most of them are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. My husband works full time (and then some) and I have more than Ella to care for. I a toddler and a preschooler who need me, a house to keep up, a family to take care of.

Let’s breakdown my reality for a moment: surprising news, intimidating change, doctors’ visits, happy family, lots of decisions… Sound a bit familiar?

I need a doula.

If you know of a Strabismus Surgery Doula, please send me his or her information… Yeah, there is no such thing. But feeling the desire, experiencing the need in my life right now, do you know what it really fuels inside me? My desire to help.

I cannot change my daughter’s need for surgery. So I will use these difficulties and challenges to grow as a person, as a mom and as a doula. Though the circumstances for my changes and the changes a new family faces are different, a lot of the emotions are the same. Being a parent isn’t all sunshine and daisies, whether you’re 7 months pregnant or your child is 7 and facing surgery.

The good news for expecting parents or new families is, there are people who literally make it their job to help and support them through those emotions and the difficult times (and even celebrate the happy ones).

We call them “doulas.”

 

Jen Southern is an affiliated doula with Doulas of Memphis. Her experiences with facing challenges with her own children have helped shape her into the compassionate, understanding, and empathetic doula she is today. 

One Word for Moms in 2017

Disillusioned with the concept of the New Year's Resolution, there are many people who are adopting the idea of using one word as a theme or focus for the year. There's a ton of appeal to this: it's nonspecific, doesn't involve empty promises, and emphasizes growth and self-improvement in a much more holistic sort of way. In addition to whatever one word you have chosen for yourself, here's our word for the moms and moms-to-be out there: ENOUGH. Why did we choose it? Well... one word

In 2017, we challenge you to see yourself as enough.

Not "good enough" in the sense of aspiring to mediocrity, but that you, just as you are, are enough. That you, yes you, are exactly what your family needs. You are enough as a parent. You are the best mom for your baby. You have everything you need to parent well. You don't need to be "good enough' because you ARE enough.

Say "enough" when people try to make you feel small.

You're not small. You are wonderful and worthwhile. Your voice matters. You have great ideas. You matter and you're important. If I sound like I'm quoting The Help, #sorrynotsorry because really and truly, YOU have value. You are more than your circumstances, you are more than your failures, and you're even more than your successes.

Say "enough" to the pressure to measure up.

Other moms. Other wives. Other women. Pinterest. Whatever it's tempting to compare yourself to and bemoan the fact that you aren't quite there, say "enough." You don't need to measure up to someone else's ideal or standard. Set goals and work for them because you love yourself, not because you think it will make someone love you or value you more.

You're enough, but you don't have to go it alone.

Asking for help, leaning on your village, and relying on others doesn't change the fact that you're enough just as you are. Being enough doesn't mean you never need support from the people around you. It means that your worth isn't defined by that need. We all get by with a little help from our friends (and sometimes a little help from a doula or two), and unrealistic expectations need not apply. You're enough, mama. You're enough, friend. You're enough, sister. You're enough, daughter. You're enough, wife. Say it until you believe it, girl.

Our one word for you this year is "enough," but we'd also love to hear what you have in mind for 2017! Share with us in the comments, and have a Happy New Year!

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.

5 Things I Know About Online Friends | Guest Blog

In this day and age our relationships look a little different than they used to. Our circle is wider, more extensive, and we no longer have to rely on only our jobs and local hangouts to meet people and strike up friendships. A lot of us are meeting our partners online, so why would our friendships be any different?

Never underestimate the power of online friends!

I am no stranger to online friendships. For the past several years, most of my closest friends have lived in my computer! It can be hard at times, but I consider myself a bit of an expert at this point. So here are 5 things I know about online friends:

1. They're just as real as face-to-face friendships.

Sometimes people can make you feel like your online friendships aren’t as legitimate as face-to-face ones. But they are! Remember, that’s not just a computer you’re talking to, there’s a real person behind that profile. And isn’t the most legitimate type of friend one that makes you feel supported and loved, no matter where they live?

2. There are tons of different ways to communicate with online friends.

IMG_1998You have a plethora of options with which to communicate, depending on your personality and preferences. Do you like to Facebook chat while you’re feeding the baby? Maybe you like seeing their face, so Skype or Google hangouts are more your style. Or if talking on the phone with little ones is a challenge, the voice message feature can be the best of both worlds. You can post funny stuff on their Timeline. And have you seen the new Snapchat filters today?!

 

3. Your online friends don't care if you're a hot mess today.

You can talk to them without a bra. Or in only a bra. Or with your hair a mess. Whatever, your online friends don’t care! They’re just happy to hear from you. You never feel like you have to impress them.

4. Online friends are there whenever you need them.

Even if they aren’t always online, having their profile readily available at all times makes it really feel like they are always there. When you’re up feeding the baby again, you can send your BFF a message because you know she’ll see it soon. And sometimes you might abuse this just slightly by treating your messages like your own personal journal... but it’s all good, because you know they’ve got your back.

5. Any time spent face-to-face with your online friends is the sweetest time ever.

On the rare occasion that you do get see your online friends face-to-face, it’s the best. They are SO happy to see you, because it’s been months or even years since you last hung out. Online friends know how to cherish time together because it’s so rare. They never take you for granted and you always part looking forward to the next time you can hang out!

We all need friends and support people in our lives. That need is even greater as mothers. We need people we can complain to, laugh with, cry with, love, and be loved by. They say it takes a village - it’s okay if your village is a virtual one.

Authored by: Brooke Duke, owner of Expecting Baby Doula Services. Brooke is a doula in Ames, Iowa. Check her out at www.expectingbabydoula.com.