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!

The IKEA Doula

Memphis is buzzing with excitement over the Grand Opening of our very own IKEA. The iconic blue building with yellow letters beckons with the promise of inexpensive home goods, plenty to look at, and delicious, inexpensive meatballs. ikea-1376853_1920-1

Let's face it, though. IKEA can be equal parts awesome and overwhelming, and a trip with kids requires a strategic battle plan. Enter: The IKEA Doula.

You know the drill by now: Doulas provide families with physical, emotional, and informational support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. We joke among colleagues about wishing we had a "Life Doula" to support us through difficult-to-navigate situations. Why should IKEA be any different?

Your IKEA Doula provides physical support during your trip.

Parking is a breeze with your IKEA Doula. She'll drop you off right at the entrance and meet you inside. Having trouble juggling your list, coffee, cart, and purse? Don't worry, your IKEA Doula can help! Need someone to watch your things while you take a much-needed potty break? We got you. Need one grownup to push the stroller so you can push the cart? Hold your spot in the food line because your toddler has to go potty RIGHT NOW even though they didn't when you asked them ten minutes ago? We'll even help you remember to sit down on the display couches and help you stay hydrated while you attempt to walk the entire store.

Your IKEA Doula provides you with the emotional support you need to make it through the store in one piece.

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering why you decided to even do this opening week? Need help keeping your goals in mind? This is where your doula shines. She'll remind you you're not alone, there's nothing wrong with sitting down for 30 minutes to regroup, that it's okay to not know which color you want right now. If you're exhausted, she won't judge you for taking a nap in one of the micro-apartments. It helps them look more realistic, right? She'll listen as you process how this piece will fit in your room versus that one, and won't tell you that you're overthinking and to "OMG JUST PICK SOMETHING ALREADY. IT'S A COFFEE TABLE." Your doula knows it's never just a coffee table and will listen and validate all of your feelings.

Your IKEA Doula is fully equipped to give you the informational support you need for a successful trip.

If you've never been to an IKEA before, your doula can help talk you through the process. If you need a list-making ninja, she'll make sure you've got the best list for you. She'll help you take measurements so you can know if that couch will indeed fit in your living room, and will help you locate every item you need in the warehouse part of the store. She'll help you find item number and help you make sure you haven't forgotten anything.

There's no such thing as an IKEA Doula, but don't you wish there were?!

Alas, this magical creature called the IKEA Doula isn't real, but if you're pregnant or a new mom in Memphis, you can get this kind of support through this beginning stage of parenthood! Experience that same magic in the form of birth doulas, postpartum doulas, overnight doulas, childbirth education, and lactation support.

P.S., if you want your postpartum doula to take Baby's First IKEA Trip with you, we totally do that. We'll even let you call us your IKEA doula while you're there ;)

Holidays and inducing labor

If you're due around the holidays, you may have heard quips like, "Thanksgiving is not a medical indication for induction of labor!" The implication is that induction of labor rises around holidays and that physician convenience is to blame. We feel this language is damaging and a more nuanced approach is in order.

Having an estimated due date that falls close to a major holiday can come with its own set of challenges. When it comes to holidays and inducing labor, there are many factors at play, and physician convenience is usually at the bottom.

While many wouldn't dream of inducing labor because of a holiday, there are others who see it as the best, most logical choice for their family.

So, why would someone induce labor around a major holiday?

holidays and inducing labor

Some women choose an induction before a holiday to ensure their primary physician will be there.

You researched your physician carefully and chose them because you felt like they were the best doctor for you. You trust them and have spent your entire pregnancy building a relationship with them and discussing your preferences. You feel you'll get the best care from them. They know you and understand you, and it's important to you that they are there to deliver your baby, but you know they won't be in town for Thanksgiving (or another holiday). Elective inductions without a medical reason are discouraged before 39 weeks gestation, but if you're on the cusp of your due date and have the okay from your physician to induce labor, then it's a perfectly valid choice and one that we won't judge you for.

Some women choose induction because they want/don't want to have their baby on a specific holiday.

For some, the decision about holidays and inducing labor comes from a desire to have their baby on a specific holiday. The idea of a Thanksgiving or Christmas baby is special to them. For others, it's the exact opposite, and they don't want their child to feel overshadowed on their birthday because of the holiday. If you've got a New Year's baby on the way, taxes can be a huge issue for families as well. All of these are valid choices when they are made with your physician.

Some women choose to induce before a holiday so they can spend that holiday at home.

The desire not to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other major holiday in the hospital is certainly understandable. You might choose to induce before a holiday to ensure that you can be home with your family, propped up on the couch with your newborn with a plate of your favorite comfort food in your hands.

Some women induce around a holiday because they know they will have lots of family support.

Not everyone has family locally, and a woman may choose to induce around a holiday so that her out-of-town family can meet the baby and that there will be plenty of help to go around. Once your family heads back home, our postpartum doulas make the perfect holiday gift and can always pick up where your family left off.

Even if you aren't concerned about holidays and inducing labor, know that the doctors and hospital staff are there to support you every day of the year, even on holidays.

Your doctors and nurses have dedicated years of their lives to learning how to care for you during your pregnancy and birth. Whether they work in a group or solo practice, they all understand that holiday births are part of the job. Many physicians work in group practices and know ahead of time when their call schedule falls on a major holiday, and they are ready to come to you in the same way your birth doula is ready to come to you, day or night.

At Doulas of Memphis, we support your decisions for your birth and respect the relationships and choices you make with your trusted physicians. Our opinion on holidays and inducing labor? We don't have one outside of the choice that you feel is best for you.