Choosing Your Care Provider

You are 6 weeks pregnant. The all-day nausea is a constant reminder of the change your body is going through to bring forth your new little life. You’ve moved from shock to excitement as the reality starts to set in.

If you haven’t already seen your doctor to “confirm” the pregnancy (as if those 13 positive pregnancy tests weren’t enough), you will probably see them soon. Most women make their initial appointment around 6-8 weeks.

BOP- Choosing care providers

The first of many questions you’ll have to answer during your pregnancy and one that will set the course of your entire birth experience is deciding: “Who will I choose as my care provider for my pregnancy and birth?” This is often overlooked, but it is an important decision. Here are some common phrases we hear as doulas:

“I’ll just have my OBGYN that I’ve seen since I was 16 deliver my babies! He has great bedside manner.”

“I’ll just let my doctor know my plans for my birth sometime before I have the baby.”

“I’m nervous that one of the doctors in the group practice I go to does routine episiotomies, but I don’t need to change provider because I have a birth plan!”

You have choices.

Although it is okay to choose your care provider based on the above statements, we want you to know that you have choices. This would take learning what type of birth practices are normal for your provider and being intentional about who you choose to be in the room with you when you birth your baby. If you don’t learn what is important to you until the end of your pregnancy, you risk being disappointed because your provider didn’t offer the type of birth experience you were looking for.

When a mother chooses her provider intentionally and purposefully, she can then trust that her provider will give her and her baby the best care, and will take her desires and goals for her birth seriously. It may also be very important to you to choose a provider who will make sure you are well informed should any intervention become necessary.

What if women were empowered with the knowledge to choose the right provider for the type of birth experience they desire?

What if typical “birth plans” could virtually go away, because you chose the RIGHT provider for the type of birth you want, and you were able to fully trust that provider? This could change the way we view childbirth in our culture! With new pregnant women all the time watching The Business of Being Born and deciding they need to “fight” for the type of birth they want, the problem will only persist if women continue choosing, or staying with, care providers that do not deliver the type of birth experience they desire.

Although some situations, like high risk factors or whether or not a provider takes your insurance, may limit some of your choices, many low risk women still do not know that they can choose between:

  • Home birth, birth center, or hospital birth
  • Midwife or Obstetrician
  • A midwife at home, birth center, or hospital

If you decide you want an unmedicated, uninhibited birth in a hospital, you would not choose an OBGYN who is most comfortable with all of her patients staying in bed and continually monitored for the duration of active labor. On the flip side, if the idea of no immediate access to pain medication or the ability to do emergency surgery creates great anxiety for you, then you wouldn’t choose to birth at home or at a free standing birth center. These are just a couple of examples, but there are many different factors to consider when deciding which provider and birth location is best for you.

Getting Started.

So, you’ve decided it’s important for you to really consider this choice but with so many birthing options, where do you start and how do you decide?

To help make this easy, we want to share with you a great road map to help you figure out your values and desires for your birth. Our Choosing Your Care Provider Flowchart asks simple questions that lead you to your ideal birth location and your ideal type of care provider.

*Although this flowchart can be helpful for women all over the US, the options are geared towards women birthing in Nashville.


Download here: Care Provider Flow Chart

Once you’ve decided on the right birthing location and type of provider for you, then you can start interviewing care providers to find the perfect fit. Stay tuned for our upcoming posts that will discuss the type of questions to ask when interviewing potential providers and what to do if you decide you need to switch care providers.

For Nashville readers, below is a list of care providers and contact information to help get you started in the right direction.

Download here: Nashville Care Providers

diaper bag

What to Pack in My Diaper Bag

If you’ve seen Mary Poppins, you will remember the scene where she is emptying her carpet bag. Each item that she pulls out is more exciting and strange than the next. As a child I always wondered how she fit an entire lamp in her bag. Now as a mother I understand. A mother’s diaper bag holds everything she will need in any situation. As a new mother you may be wondering what you will need in your diaper bag. A few weeks ago we discussed what to pack in your hospital bag. Today we have compiled a list of the necessities for your diaper bag.


Let’s start with what type of diaper bag to use. Two of the easiest bags to carry are a messenger bag and a backpack. Whether the bag is all purpose or specifically made as a diaper bag, make sure it is comfortable over your shoulder and has a variety of pockets. I love this backpack diaper bag because it is comfortable, has a ton of pockets, and the print is adorable! Another great bag is this backpack diaper bag because it is sturdy, a good size, and practical for daily use. This messenger diaper bag is perfect for dads or anyone looking for a practical bag that’s good for travel. This diaper bag is more of a standard bag but it has a classy print and many nice features, like hooks to attach the bag to a stroller. All in all, find a diaper bag big enough to fit everything you need and that you feel comfortable wearing.

Now to discuss what will go in the bag. As each new season with your baby approaches, you will change what you carry in your diaper bag. Today we will focus on packing a bag for a newborn. First and foremost, you will need diapers. Pack more than you think you will need and then one more. I love these diapers. They are eco friendly and come in cute designs. You will also need wipes. Merrill loves wipes from Costco. Stock up because you can never have too many wipes. Packing in hand sanitizer, a changing pad, and diaper rash cream is always useful as well. This changing pad is awesome for travel and so handy when changing your baby in a public restroom.

If you are bottle feeding, you will need a prepared bottle of formula or breastmilk. You will also need an extra bottle and extra formula or breastmilk in case you are out longer than you originally planned. If you are breastfeeding, you will need some extra breast pads and a thin blanket or nursing cover, if you choose. We absolutely love the reusable breast pads Bamboobies makes. Whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding, things can get messy! You will need some burp cloths. I buy the Gerber prefold diapers and use them as burp cloths.

Packing 2-3 extra outfits for your newborn is always a good idea. You never know what kind of spit up or blow out might happen. You will also need a few plastic bags to throw dirty clothes in or a dirty diaper if you are not near a trash can. Other miscellaneous items you might like to pack are a water bottle and snack for yourself, Chapstick, sunscreen, band aids, hair bands, and anything else you think you will need.

Check out our downloadable list for a summary of everything you will need in your diaper bag. This list is great to print out a keep on your refrigerator or even in your diaper bag. The last place you want to be is in the middle of Target with a baby covered in poop and no extra change of clothes. Trust me all mamas have been there at one point. Just remember to invest in a good sturdy diaper bag and have it packed with the necessities. Your outings with your sweet newborn will be less stressful and more enjoyable!

Check out our printable diaper bag checklist here:

What to Pack in My Hospital Bag

The illusive hospital bag: What to pack? When to pack? What do I need? What does the hospital provide? Have no fear! Today we will dispel the mystery.

Packing hospital bag

Packing for the Hospital

First thing to remember, if you are delivering in a hospital, is that you will be there for a few days. Begin by packing as if you were going on a short trip. Pack a few outfits (loose fitting). Pack your basic toiletries: toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Next thing to think about is that you are going there to have your baby! I have compiled a list of items that will be extremely helpful to have on hand for you, your partner, and new bundle of joy. This list includes the necessities as well as what to bring for your labor and those first few postpartum days.

A few items on the hospital bag packing list may surprise you or make you say, “Why didn’t I think if that?!” Our doulas have weighed in and have some recommendations based on the hundreds of births we’ve attended!

One suggestion from Vicki is a bikini top or tank top for the shower or tub. You may be comfortable laboring in your full birthday suit, but if not don’t forget to bring something you will want to labor in and you are ok with getting wet. Merrill suggests bringing your own receiving blankets and hat for baby right after delivery. The hospital provides both these items, however you might like the idea of bringing your own! Whitney recommends that you bring your own towel for that wonderful first postpartum shower. The hospital does provide them, but unless you like using a small hand towel to dry off with, you may want to bring your own that you can wrap up in. Lillie loves recommending that moms bring one familiar item from home for each of the senses. A picture of your family or pets to look at during labor or your favorite scented hand lotion are just a few ideas. You will want to pack items that you know will make you comfortable and give you a sense of peace. Also, don’t forget your partner! Packing a bag of personal items for your partner such as a change of clothes, toiletries, and snacks are a must!

But when should I pack my hospital bag? Many care providers will suggest having your bag packed by 36 weeks when you begin weekly appointments. You can keep your bag by the front door and bring it with you in the car to your doctors appointments.

What items do I NOT need to pack that are provided by the hospital? Leave out the diapers, wipes, postpartum pads, to name a few. The hospital will provide these key items. Like I mentioned above, the hospital provides blankets for mom and baby, pillows, towels, hats and onesies, and a hospital gown. Feel free to either not pack any of these items or pack replacements for these items if you want to bring your own.

The number one thing to remember is this is you and your family’s big day! Pack whatever you need to make you feel cozy and comfortable.

Check out our printable packing list here:

Hospital Packing List \

Hospital Packing List


5 Reasons Your Partner Wants a Doula

Some people don’t hire a doula because they don’t think they will need one. They plan on their partner being their support person, their birth coach, and the only presence needed in the room. It is true is that no doula could ever replace the love that the partner has for the mother. After all, it’s their baby! The connection between partners is invaluable in the birthing room. The partner knows the mother in a way that no one else does and can provide insight on how to best support her. No doula can take that role. However, adding a doula to the birth team can greatly enhance the birth experience for both the mother and the partner. Imagine preparing a huge meal for a dinner party. You have a couple of options: you could plan, prepare, cook, clean, etc. down to the detail and exhaust yourself to no end. Alternatively, you could ask a friend to help, hire a cook or have a professional cleaner to help take that burden off your plate. In the same way, we know women and their partners are totally capable to conquering birth on their own- but they don’t have to! With the support of a doula, the partner can enjoy the birth experience without having the pressure to be everything for the laboring woman. Why go at it alone when you don’t have to?


Here are some ways a doula is invaluable to the birthing couple:

1. Doulas help partners know what is ‘normal’ in labor. 

For first-time parents, everything about birth is new. Even if the mother is going through birth for the 2nd or 3rd time, no two births look exactly the same. The journey is full of unknowns and this can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. A doula will be the calming presence in the room that the partner can look to and hear her say, “that shaking: totally normal!” Even in the midst of the intensity, the doula can help the partner see that the behavior of the laboring woman is normal by saying, “look how powerful she is!” This is where our doulas help guide the parents through labor. Easing the fears of the partner will greatly improve the atmosphere for the mother. If she knows her partner is not afraid, she can fully emerge herself in her birth.

2. Doulas help remind partners of the variety of coping skills and comfort measures that they learned in childbirth class.

Even if the partner took a childbirth class and learned many comfort techniques and skills, it can be so overwhelming to see their loved one go through the intensity of labor, which makes it more challenging to recall the details of the childbirth class. Our doulas can offer coping methods, massage techniques, and have for a vast repertoire of tips for helping mom relax and allow birth to happen. This frees the partner from the pressure of remembering everything. In many instances, having two sets of hands is helpful- the doula may be giving the mother counter pressure on her back while the partner places a wash cloth on her forehead and gives her verbal affirmation. A doula makes the partner look good! However involved the partner wants to be in labor, the doula can help them do that.

3. Doulas know the language of birth and can help the parents understand all the choices available.

While doulas do not speak on behalf of the family, they can help families recall their wished for birth and what they indicated in their birth plan. There are times the medical staff may walk in the room, look at the monitor, and walk out without saying anything. Although we do not diagnose the situation, we can explain what the nurse is looking at and how to read the monitor. In the midst of labor, you may be faces with many choices for your care; for example, having your care provider break your water to speed up labor. There are benefits and risks to any procedure and a doula can help the partner and mother remember to ask their care provider all the questions they need to in order to make the best choice for them. Doulas give unbiased support and act as a sounding board in the birth room to help process all the crossroads of labor.

4. Doulas can give partners a break.

Birth can last a long time- hours or even days! It can be a lot to ask for one person to be the sole source of support during labor. A doula can help the partner by grabbing them food or coffee or allowing them to take short break or nap. Even if the partner needs to step out, the doula will be there to provide continuous support for mom. Our doulas prioritize the partner, making sure they stay nourished and rested through the process.

5. Doulas can ‘doula’ the whole family.

Sometimes partners need help ‘doula-ing’ the grandparents. Anxious and excited grandparents, especially if they are in unfamiliar territory- tend to pace the floor outside of the delivery room itching to get inside. Doulas can help facilitate a quick hello if that is what the mother wants, or they can communicate or send updates to the waiting family outside. Many family members will thank our doulas for helping them understand and for giving updates during labor. This helps the partner be 100% present during labor without having to give updates every hour.

A doula’s job includes nurturing, supporting, and encouraging partners, just as she does for mothers in labor. The partners are experiencing great changes during this process as well. We want both parents to feel good about their choices, all choices! It’s our desire for them to feel like a team, united and bonded by the incredible adventure they just had! It’s a strong way to build the foundation for the next big season of parenthood.

At Nashville Doula Services, we support the whole family!