New Birth Center in Nashville

On our last post, we shared about a new midwifery option offered by WOMEN OB. With an increasing demand for a more hands-off approach to birth, we are excited to share about a new birth center option coming by the end of October to St. Thomas Midtown.

What is the overall vision for this birth center?
The vision is to give low-risk patients access to a home-like environment for a natural, holistic birth within the walls of a highly specialized hospital. This allows women to have the atmosphere conducive for a natural labor, all while having the benefit of a very short transfer (down the hall) to labor and delivery or the OR, should the need arise. The goal is to have a patient-driven, family-centered birth center that will become a community standard. This is the first birth center of its kind within an inpatient facility in Middle Tennessee.

Doulas, Whitney and Vicki, get a sneak peek tour of the new birth center!

Which providers are part of the birth center committee? 
WOMEN OB put together a committee of obstetricians and midwives to make this new birth center a reality. This committee includes:

Dr. Sharon Norman, Dr. Donna Crowe, Kayleigh Holthaus, CNM – WOMEN OB

Dr. Nicole Heidemann, Dr. Reagen Saig   – Tennessee Women’s Care, PC

Dr. Allison Strnad – Heritage Medical Associates

Addie Graham, CNM/FNP – Vine Hill Midwives

Can any provider deliver babies at the birth center? 
Any care provider with practicing rights at St. Thomas Midtown will have rights to deliver at the birth center.

When is the birth center opening?
It is currently scheduled to open by the end of this October.

Where is the birth center located?
The birth center will be located inside of St. Thomas Midtown. Patients will use the same triage entrance as the rest of the L&D floor. However, once admitted into the birth center, double doors will “close off” the birth center from the rest of the hospital, giving patients more privacy.

How many rooms will there be?
The birth center will consist of three rooms in its own hallway, separated by double doors. The rooms have the best view of the downtown Nashville skyline in the whole hospital. 

How will the rooms be different than other hospital rooms?
So much attention to detail went into designing these rooms to make them as home-like as possible within a hospital setting.
Each room will be equipped with:
-Regular, double size beds – no hospital beds
-Walk-in showers
-Labor tubs for hydrotherapy
-Birth ladders
-Birth stools
-Birthing balls and peanut balls
(Don’t know how to use these tools in labor, a doula can help 😉 )

Who is the perfect candidate for the birth center?
The birth center is intended for low-risk mothers. Providers will be given a criteria that the patient must meet in order to qualify for delivery in the birth center. Babies must also be at term (37 weeks+) and healthy in order to deliver at the birth center. 

Because epidurals will not be administered in these rooms, the birth center is for women choosing a natural delivery. Admittance into the birth center rooms will be at active labor (around 5-6cm).

Will VBAC candidates be approved for the Birth Center?
Unfortunately, VBAC (Vaginal birth after Cesarean) will not be permitted in the birth center. 

Will IV Fluids be required?
Saline locks will be recommended but no routine IV fluids will be given. 

What about fetal monitoring? 
The birth center will utilize intermittent monitoring. Portable monitors will be available, as well as scarves to cover up monitors. Another feature of the birth center includes a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio.

Will there be pain medication options?
Nitrous oxide and a short list of IV pain medications will be available.

What if I decide I want an epidural?
Epidurals will not be administered in the birth center rooms. These rooms are intended for women desiring a natural birth. However, if a mother requests an epidural, she will transfer to a standard L&D room, if a room is available. No need to be re-admitted in triage.

What if I end up needing a C-section? 
Similar to an epidural, the birth center is for women planning a natural, vaginal birth. If a C-section becomes necessary, the mother will go down the hall to the OR.

Can I eat or drink during labor?
Yes, a small fridge will be provided for outside food. Although, since women are not being admitted until active labor, most are not going to be wanting to eat very much at that point. But food and drink will be allowed. 

What happens after delivery?
The birth center will provide 4 hours of uninterrupted mother-baby bonding time. After the four hours, the mother will be moved to a standard postpartum room for 8-12 hours. Discharge time will vary depending on the mother’s delivery, desire to leave, and written approval from the pediatrician (made in advance).

What other requirements will there be to birth at the birth center?
Patients wanting to use the birth center will be required to take a mandatory class at St. Thomas by 36 weeks. This does NOT replace a regular childbirth class. Dr. Norman recommends all couples take a natural birthing class

Why do I have to get written approval from our pediatrician?
Typically after a natural, vaginal delivery with no complications, a mother is cleared for discharge within a few hours. However, discharge for babies is dependent on the pediatrician. The state requires screening on a newborn at 24 hours for conditions like congenital heart defects. If the mother would like to go home within a few hours of delivery with her baby, she needs written permission from her pediatrician. If the mother would rather stay the night in a standard postpartum room, she can choose to do so as well.

It is amazing to see the changes and increase of options for pregnant women in Nashville. We can’t wait to assist our client’s at this new birth center!

Why Moms are Keeping Their Placenta

“You’re encapsulating and eating your what?!” For those of you who chose to encapsulate your placenta, you may have heard this question from curious or confused friends and family. Today we will totally dispel the mystery of placentophagy (eating your placenta)!

Let’s start with the basics. What is a placenta? The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to your baby and removes waste products. The placenta also produces hormones that support your pregnancy, labor, and birth.

So, you may be wondering how consuming this organ will benefit you after having your baby. Throughout history women have told stories of their experiences including improved mood, increased energy, improved lactation, a reduction in postpartum bleeding, a faster recovery, a boost in energy and relief in postpartum blues to name a few. There have been several studies done to help us understand some of these possible benefits. Here are our top 5 favorite reasons for choosing placenta encapsulation to jump start your postpartum season!

1. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health, postpartum women have lower than average levels of a hormone CRH, triggering depressive symptoms. They concluded that eating the placenta will raise a mother’s CRH levels therefore, reducing Postpartum Depression.

2. Many mothers have reported an increase in energy after consuming the iron rich placenta through encapsulation. A 1961 study on the Iron Content of Placentas and Cords by Bonnie McCoy, M.S., stated: “Data obtained on the fifty placentas and cords… The total iron content of the samples averaged 75.5mg and ranged from 34.5 to 170mg…” To compare: a 3 ounce cut of steak contains about 2.75mg of iron.

3. If you have heard about after birth pains or a difficult recovery after birth, placenta encapsulation has a possible solution for that too. It has been reported that the “Placenta Opiod-Enhancing Factor” may possibly reduce pain in the birthing mother after delivery. Read more here.

4. Many mothers have suggested an increase in milk supply through anecdotal evidence on consuming placenta capsules. Placentas contain hormones and Lactogens that possibly enhance mammary gland growth and milk production. Read more about it here.

5. Some key hormones contained in the placenta may play a role in these reported benefits. Prolactin promotes lactation. Cortisone combats stress and increases energy. Prostaglandins have anti-inflammatory properties. Hemoglobin helps to replenish iron. Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII stops bleeding and enhances wound healing. Gammaglobulin is an immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.

Some mothers wonder, “Does the encapsulation process cook out the hormones and nutrients?” We say- No! The placenta is carefully steamed and dehydrated to ensure these important hormones and nutrients are not lost. This process is referred to as the Traditional Method. Your placenta is encapsulated either in your home or in the encapsulation specialist’s work space. After completing the two-day process, your placenta capsules are hand delivered to you.

If you have tried placenta encapsulation after any of your pregnancies, let us know your experience in the comments below. If you are in the Nashville area and interested in having your placenta encapsulated for your upcoming birth, contact us here and check out more info on this service here.

Creating a Newborn Care Plan

When you sit down to create a birth plan or write out your birth goals, you need to include a postpartum plan for you and your baby. After your baby is born whether you had a natural birth, used pain medication, or had a C section, you have some choices to make about how you and your baby are cared for in those first few postpartum moments and days.

Consider questions such as: Will you bring your own hat and blankets for your baby? Who will cut your baby’s cord? Will you keep your placenta? When will visitors come to see you and your new baby? Every mother’s answer to these questions will be different.

You will also be given the option to accept or decline several different newborn procedures. It is important to research these procedures during your pregnancy to make the most informed decision for you and your growing family. These procedures include:

  1. Vitamin K
  2. Eye ointment
  3. Hepatitis B vaccine
  4. Baby’s first bath
  5. Circumcision (for boys)

Discussing each of these with your child’s pediatrician may give you a better idea of the risks and benefits. Besides having a conversation with your doctor and other trusted mothers, you may wish to do your own research. Websites such as Evidence Based Birth can be a great starting point to read about each of these topics.

Knowledge is power. We want you to be able to feel informed and equipped with the tools to make these decisions for you and your newborn. Use our quick and easy Newborn Postpartum Plan Worksheet to help you get on your way to a smooth transition into parenthood!

Creating Birth Goals

If you are pregnant, you have likely heard of a birth plan. Most birth plans include your choice on monitoring, use of pain management drugs, movement during labor, and other medical procedures. The ideal time to research and discuss these choices is at the beginning of your pregnancy, when you are choosing a care provider and birthing location.

Once you feel confident about your care provider and birth preferences you can begin thinking about your birth goals. Your goals are different from a “plan.” Your goals are what makes your birth special and unique. Your goals are the key to having a purposeful and fulfilling birth.

Thinking about your birth goals is an important step to get you excited about birth and make your experience unique to you. You can start by answering these five questions for yourself:

  1. What do you want to remember about your birth?
  2. What do you want to remember feeling?
  3. How do you want to be treated and supported?
  4. What would make your birth memorable?
  5. What would help you best process a change in plans?

Your answers to these questions may be completely different from the next pregnant woman. That’s what special about creating birth goals. Once you have brainstormed on these questions, begin writing down some tools you can use to achieve these goals.

For example, who do you want present at your birth? Do you want your mom and sister alongside your partner and doula there? Or do you want a more private space with just your partner and doula? You may even decide to have a birth photographer present!

Another consideration is your senses. Choose something unique to your personality for each sense. Do you want to be diffusing energizing peppermint or calming lavender? Do you want high energy music playing or a calming instrumental playlist? Do you want to use a picture of you and your partner on your favorite vacation as a focal point or a beautiful bouquet of flowers to focus on during contractions? Do you enjoy a heating pad on your back or a cold washcloth on your forehead? Do you want to wear your own clothes during labor or wear a special necklace or ring gifted to you by a loved one?

Many women also use positive affirmations during labor. You can write cards with encouraging phrases on them such as, “I am getting closer to meeting my baby!” Or “I feel safe and supported.” This may be something you read aloud during labor, or you simply stick under your pillow and you know it is there if you need it. Some women even write their affirmations on a poster and set it up in their labor room for everyone to see and read. You may even have your partner or doula write down a few amazing, awe inspiring moments during labor for you to look back on after.

Birth is unpredictable. Even if you create a concrete birth “plan,” your labor may decide to have a plan of its own. Most women who have experienced labor and birth will tell you that something happened during the process that they did not expect or plan for. Maybe you wanted a natural birth and you ended up getting an epidural. Maybe you hoped for labor to begin spontaneously and you ended up being induced. Even if a C-section is needed for the safest outcome for you and baby, you have choices! You get to choose to make your baby’s birth a positive and special experience. Check out our Birth on Purpose Birth Goals Worksheet to create your own unique list of goals for your birth!

Download here: Birth Goals Worksheet

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Planning a Mother’s Blessing Ceremony

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What is a Mother’s Blessing?:

A Mother’s Blessing, also known as a blessingway, is an opportunity to create a moment in time that celebrates and honors a pregnant woman and her journey into birth. This ritual is derived from a Navajo tradition that recognizes and honors the journey of pregnancy and the transition of birth as a momentous occasion in a woman’s life. It is a celebration of pregnancy and birth as a sacred and unique journey where the collective energy of loving women can help guide the mother through birth.

Unlike most cultures, we don’t find many rituals in American culture these days. There’s rarely a coming of age or naming ceremony. For many, weddings and funerals are the extent to rituals that they experience in their everyday lives. But there is power in ritual. It marks transition, it affirms important values, and it provides an opportunity to connect with women in a sacred place free of distractions. When women connect, we celebrate our femininity. And that subtle acknowledgement of a tribe is profound. Rituals are doorways between the spiritual and physical world. We experience a moment in time and then step back into our daily lives enriched by that experience.

This post uses images from four Mother’s Blessing ceremonies (Felicia, Lauren, Merrill, and Laura) – read more about Merrill’s and Felicia’s ceremonies on their blogs. 

Creating the Perfect Environment:

Guest List.
Think about the important women in your life and who you want by your side as you celebrate your steps into childbirth and motherhood. This could include your mother, aunts, sisters, and the grandmothers, your closest girlfriends, your doula, and if it’s an option, even your midwife.

Food.
This is a celebration, so food is important. It’s best to have food ready for after the ceremony so it is not a distraction during the ceremony. Think about comfort food, after all you are pregnant, so pick food that you love!

Location.
The location and atmosphere you create for your ceremony is key! Some love the idea of a midday garden party or an evening celebration with candles. You want to think about how many people will be there and find the perfect spot that sets the tone for your ceremony.

Sacred Space.
There are many options for creating a space that feels sacred and special. This can be done by having all the guests take off their shoes, place their phones in a special basket (for no distractions), or giving all the guest floral crowns. You can create a special place by incorporating your favorite flowers or lighting the room with christmas lights. Also consider music for the background and diffusing essential oils or lighting a candle to enhance the experience.

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Planning the Ceremony:

This is where you can be as creative as you like. It’s like planning your wedding ceremony. You can keep it traditional or you can add your own unique touches. You can make the ceremony as spiritual or as religious as you would like it to be. Think about what activities would make you feel special, loved, and prepared for childbirth and motherhood. Make this your own. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Statement of Intention.

Starting the ceremony with a statement of intention is a great way to let the guests know what to expect with this type of ceremony. Many may have never heard of a mother’s blessing, so explaining why you want to hold a celebration like this may be a great starting point. You could also include a reading or poem. Here is an example of an opening statement:

“Today we gather in gratitude. We are grateful for the new life we are about to welcome into this world. We are grateful for the presence of [Mother’s name] in our lives. We also gather in preparation. We intend to prepare [Mother’s name], giving her strength, support, and clarity in mind, body, and soul, for herself, for her birthing, and for her baby.”

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Candle Lighting.

The act of lighting a candle is a powerful way of signifying the start of a ceremony and it creates an atmosphere of reverence. One idea is for you to light the first candle and then have all the guest light their own candles from the your flame. The guest’s candles will be the ones they light once the you go into labor as a symbol of prayer and support. You could also ring a bell as a symbol of starting the ceremony.

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Maternal Lineage.

If you happen to know your maternal lineage (your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.), it can be a very special touch to the ceremony to acknowledge the women who came before you. After all, you would not be here if they had not gone through childbirth. This can be done by having a family tree as part of the decorations or reading their names during the ceremony. Some women wear a special piece of jewelry that belonged to their mother or grandmother.

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Releasing Fears. 

Pregnancy has a way of bringing up fears, especially in regards to childbirth. Having a moment in the ceremony to acknowledge and then release those fears is very powerful. You can write down a few fears before the ceremony. The more honest and vulnerable you are during this portion of the ceremony, the more meaningful and authentic the fear release will be. This can be done by writing them out and then ripping them up or burning them. Another is option is having your guests repeat a few lines after you state each fear:

“Release your fears, expectations, and distractions. May you now be free to focus your mind and heart on the present moment. Trust in the process, your body and baby know what to do. This is your baby’s birth story.”

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Birth Affirmations.

Most Mother’s Blessings will include some form of birth affirmations. This can be done by having each guest write an affirmation and read it to you, have the guests decorate birth flags or rocks with a word of strength, or having each guest say a prayer or scripture over you. This is a great activity to follow a fear release, because it builds you up and encourages you for your upcoming birth.

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Birth Alter or Necklace.

Another activity that can be included is creating a visual for you to have during labor, like creating a birthing affirmation flag or a birth alter. Each guest bring a bead and during the ceremony they can string it all together to form a necklace that you can wear during labor as a symbol that you are not alone. These physical mementoes can help center you as labor begins.

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Pampering the Mother. 

This ceremony is about celebrating you so what better way than pampering you and adorning you with beautiful things. Some might do a foot washing or a massage as a way of blessing the mother’s body. Physically laying hands on the mother is one way to show the community of support around her. Another option is painting your belly or decorating with henna. This is a way to honor the sacred home of the baby. Another activity might be brushing the mother’s hair and braiding it with flowers. This is about you, so think about what would make you feel honored and special.

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Yarn Bracelet.

A common activity found in Mother’s Blessings is creating yarn bracelets. You stand or sit in a circle and pass a ball of yarn around the circle, then cutting a piece off and tying a piece around your wrist. This string can serve as a reminder to think about the mother when she goes into labor. Some will take it off once the baby is born, others use the yarn to serve as a reminder to help you after delivery. They will take the yarn off once they have helped you postpartum.
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Giving of Gifts.

Gifts are a big part of baby showers and there’s no reason gifts can’t be part of this ceremony. Some mother’s give a small gift to all their guests to honor them. Or you could have all the guests pitch in to help the mother pay for a birth or postpartum doula.

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Poetry Reading.

If you want to include readings in the ceremony, it’s not a bad idea to include some type of written program. That way guests can follow along and know what they are supposed to read. If the you have a partner that is interested, they could write a poem that is read at the ceremony.
Here are some ideas of Mother Blessing readings:

May you be blessed with an easy transition
from mother of one to mother of two.
May you be changed in all the ways
you hope to be changed.
May your body open easily and then heal.
May those surrounding you during birth guide you
through what’s coming.
May you know joy in bringing another soul to the world.

“I am grateful for this new being
who is small in body but great in Soul,
who has come into our midst as a gift.
May I be sensitive to the sacred
as I nurture and learn from this child.
Give me patience. Give me strength.
And grant me wisdom and love
to help my baby learn to sing her own song.”
-Annie Spring

“A woman in birth is at once her most powerful and most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed understands that she is stronger than she knows.”
– Marcie Macari

“Close your eyes and breathe deep.
Breathe in peace, breathe out pain.
Imagine your feet, toes curling into dirt.
Think of yourself as rooted, think of your place in the earth.
How did you come to be here?
Through generations of women named
A maternal lineage. Think of their birth stories,
What you know, what you believe to be true.
Realize that their births carry deep wisdom.
Each birth is a powerful experience, each birth traces down to you.
Just as you pass this knowledge onto your baby
Understand that your birth is your own.
It will be different from all others, like the swirls in your thumb.
Your birth will have a unique pattern, unfolding with each contraction.
Rising and falling like a newborn’s chest,
This birth belongs to you.
This birth is the end and a beginning.
May this blessing of birth come to you without fear.
May this blessing of birth come to you with great understanding.
May this blessing of birth make your heart soar.
May this blessing of birth bring shouts of delight to your lips”
– Natalie Evans

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Birth requires a spiritual intention. A pregnant woman feels unlike anyone else on earth. And perhaps only a woman–perhaps only a mother–can truly understand this. The knowledge that a new being is growing inside of you creates immense joy and happiness. When consumed in birth world, women face the thin veil between life and death. Their baby is very much alive but not yet born. While physically it is no small feat to birth a child, spiritually a woman is shifting from housing two souls to now creating an individual life who will walk this earth. The depth of that experience, and the need for preparation, deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Let us know how you celebrated your journey into motherhood!


Here is a quick reference downloadable for planning your own Mother’s Blessing Ceremony.

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4 Resources to Prepare for Birth

Finding peace, joy, and trust in your birth is critical for achieving a purposeful experience. But when do we begin the process? I urge every woman to have the mindset of “birth on purpose.” Whether you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or even just beginning to have thoughts of pregnancy in the back of your mind, you can instill in yourself the view of birth as a purposeful and meaningful life experience.

Equip yourself with knowledge about birth.

1. Read Birth Stories

A fun and inspiring way to ease into this is reading birth stories. Here at Nashville Doula Services, we post a motivational birth story every Monday. The Birth Without Fear blog is another amazing resource to read about every kind of birth imaginable. If you are on the go and can’t sit down to read birth stories, try the podcast The Birth Hour. Whether you are listening or reading, imagine yourself in the stories you are consuming. Did you feel empowered, joyful, transformed? This is all possible in birth and you will begin to believe that for yourself as you read. We would also encourage you to find people in your life who had positive birth experiences and ask them to share their story with you. This is not the time to hear about people’s birth trauma or emergency stories. While you are pregnant, fill your thoughts with positive stories.

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2. Read Childbirth Books

Once you have read several birth stories and you’re looking for a more comprehensive source of information, you’ll want to read a few books and watch some movies on birth. We recommend Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth to everyone! Ina May Gaskin is a renowned midwife. Her book is a wealth of knowledge about birth and she even includes some birth stories. Another book we suggest every woman and her partner read is The Birth Partner by Penny Simpkin. This book is easy to read and understand and even has a birth cheat sheet for partners to reference during labor. Two movies we recommend to everyone is The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born (the sequel). These movies by Ricki Lake give an insider look on birth in today’s society.

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3. Watch Birth Videos

After reading and watching these recommendations, we suggest watching some actual birth videos. The Internet is a vast place, but there are some gems in the midst. Birth videos allow you to see what it’s actually like to give birth. Our very own, Merrill, shares the home birth of her daughter. This Vimeo page by Ceci Jane has several amazing birth videos. This YouTube channel by Natasha Hance has many videos and slideshows of a variety of birth stories.

4. Take a Childbirth Class

If you are already pregnant and you have hired your doula, consider taking a childbirth class. There are so many options out there it can get confusing! Check out this quiz to help you break down and weigh out your options between Lamaze, HypnoBirthing, and Bradley Method. If those options don’t fully appeal to you, or you have limited time, a one day intensive class or a private in-home class might be a great choice! Whether you go with a six week program or a one day crash course, a comprehensive out of hospital childbirth class will give you and your partner that extra boost of confidence during labor.

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Soaking up all of this knowledge about birth will give you an excitement for labor. Ina May once said, “Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, we recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” This “habit” of positivity begins in your mind. Read and watch everything you can about having a purposeful birth. You won’t regret it when it comes time to labor and bring your precious new one earth side.

Defining ‘Birth on Purpose’

Our culture depicts birth through a filter of fear and pain, which makes it always seem scary and emergent. But what if we change this notion of birth to one that can be a positive experience full of peace, trust, and joy?

Birth can be peaceful. You can feel safe.
Birth can be joyful. You can be excited during labor.
Birth can be transformative. You can overcome challenges that you never thought possible.

However, this idea of a ‘birth on purpose’ can lead to people thinking a positive experience is only one where everything goes according to your birth plan, a quick and easy labor with no complications at all. Although this would certainly make for a wonderful birth, this is not the situation that most parents experience. Birth plans do change, birth is unpredictable, and all the preparations you make will not necessarily guarantee certain interventions from happening or not happening. So we want to redefine what it means to birth on purpose.

We encourage you to be intentional with these 3 elements of your birth:

1. Your birthing environment.
Regardless of the type of birth, every experience allows for adjusting the birthing environment. Whether you birth at home, in a birth center, in a labor and delivery room, or in an operating room – you can influence the atmosphere. This can be done through music, aroma, and physical touch, like massage. You can decide if you want to welcome your baby to be born to your pump-it-up music, your favorite ballad, or no music at all. You can create an environment of peace and comfort by using essential oils or your favorite lotion

Pro tip: Place a drop of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball to place by your face during a C-section.

Another way to bring peace into your birthing experience is by being intentional about choosing your support team. You know best if your partner, best friend, family member, or a professional doula will help calm you through the unknowns of birth. And you might find that you want all of them by your side. For a C-section you might not be able to have more than one support person but you can have the rest of your support team with you during preparations and immediately after birth if that is something that would bring you comfort. Think about what atmosphere you want to create to welcome your baby and who would be best to help you create that environment.

2. Your care provider.
Because you cannot control the journey your birth takes, we strongly encourage parents to pick a care provider that you trust wholeheartedly. What this will do for your birth experience is eliminate fear that your provider will unnecessarily intervene. When you trust your provider and you understand what routine-practice is for them, you can take your birth plan and all the preparations that you made and you can surrender them to the process. This will allow you to be fully present and receptive to what your baby’s unique birth journey will bring. Think about what characteristics and practices you want from the person who will be walking this journey with you.

Pro tip: Check out our blogs on choosing the right care provider and questions to ask when interviewing.

3. Your attitude.
Once those first contractions start, you decide how you will embrace this labor. You have the choice to choose how you will respond to the demands placed on you physically and emotionally. You have the power to choose joy and patience and to celebrate your child’s arrival and their unique birth story. And if your plans change, it is ok to grieve the birth you were wanting and to need time to process the experience after the birth, but we encourage you to be present and allow yourself to be open to your baby’s birth as it unfolds.  Although it is an intense journey, it a moment in time that will transform your life forever as you welcome a new life into this world.

Pro tip: Write out 10 birth affirmations that you will use to help center and remind you of your desires for this birth. Example: “I am about to meet my baby” or “I am not alone” or “This is my baby’s story”

No two births are alike. The unknowns of birth can be really challenging to face regardless of whether it is your first baby or 3rd baby. But you can experience peace, trust, and joy when you choose to birth on purpose.

 

How the Media Portrays Birth

If you’ve seen Knocked Up, you’ll remember this classic scene:

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Or in Baby Mama when Amy Poehler’s character, Angie, says this:

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We have seen it played out in the movies or on TV time and time again: Pregnant mom’s water breaks with a huge splash in the middle of the street or the grocery store. She immediately begins uncontrollably screaming, dad rushes her to the car and into the hospital, doctors and nurses are screaming, “Push! Push!” to the mother who is now yelling things she will later regret. A moment later the baby is born, perfectly clean, swaddled, and placed in the mother’s arms. It makes for great entertainment, right?

The sad truth is that this is typically the only way birth is portrayed in the media. For many people this is their only exposure to what birth is like. Girls grow up seeing terrifying images of birth and a fear that they will “ruin” their bodies or be in unbearable pain during birth. Men are under the impression that their partners will become a different person during labor and be throwing things, cursing, and insulting them.

Because of this deep set fear some women might say, “I’m going to get the epidural the moment I feel the first contraction!” Or “I’ll just schedule a C-section. I don’t want to go through the agony of a vaginal birth.” The media has taught us that this is the only way to think about birth. The attitude of “Let’s just get this over with” or “Birth is scary and disgusting,” is just perpetuating the one view that the media is telling us about birth.

In this series of “birth on purpose” we have talked about choosing your care provider and birthing location carefully, interviewing care providers to pick your perfect match, and how to switch care providers if necessary. Now as we move forward with this blog series we want to talk more about you. Your thoughts and views on birth are the most critical ingredients in your path to birthing on purpose. Stay tuned for the next blog as we delve into what it means to have a positive birth experience. In the meantime check out some of our motivational birth stories. Birth doesn’t have to be like the movies. Birth can be the most transformative and awesome moment in you and your partner’s life.

Prenatal Exercise

Invest in Your Birth: Prenatal Exercise and Yoga

Today we are continuing our discussion on the concept of treating your birth experience as something worthy of investing in. Of course we believe one of the biggest ways you can invest in your birth is to hire a professional doula, but there are also other ways to plan ahead to get the most out of your experience that will yield a return for years to come.
 Prenatal Exercise

One of those ways is prenatal exercise and yoga. Staying active throughout your pregnancy can be extremely beneficial for you and your baby. Not only will you feel better as your body grows and stretches, but it can help tremendously once you go into labor.

Here in Nashville we have an amazing resource for moms to attend prenatal yoga classes, Blooma Nashville. Owner, Jennifer Derryberry Mann, speaks on this,

“Prenatal yoga supports expectant moms in so many ways. Emotionally, moms find inspiration and reassurance in a class full of pregnant women. The connection and sense of community is so grounding. Physically, prenatal yoga gives moms time to practice using breath and movement to create comfort in the body — such a great skill to have for those intense moments in birth. Mentally and spiritually, prenatal yoga gives an expectant mom a place to turn her attention inward and to make a deeper connection with her body and her baby. Women who’ve practiced prenatal yoga often tell us how much their awareness of breath meant to them during labor. Sometimes a certain yoga pose or way of moving that she learned in prenatal yoga will become a mama’s go-to during labor.”

Not only can exercise during pregnancy give you a better sense of your body to utilize during labor, it can also have great physiological effects. According to studies compiled and reviewed by Evidence Based Birth, exercise before and during pregnancy can significantly lower your risk of gestational diabetes as much as 24-55%. Research has also shown that exercise during pregnancy can significantly reduce a woman’s blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing gestational hypertension (source). In addition to these benefits, women who exercise during pregnancy gain less weight than women who don’t exercise. Investing in a prenatal exercise class or even just investing time into moving more during your day will improve the overall health and wellbeing of you and your growing baby.

Now that you know the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, you may be wondering how often you should exercise to gain these benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women who already participate in an exercise regimen can continue that regimen without major modifications. If you do not exercise regularly it is never too late to start, even during pregnancy. You can begin with low intensity exercise such as walking or yoga for 20-30 minutes, 3 times per week. Always talk to your care provider before beginning a new exercise program.

So whether you love hiking, dancing, or yoga, choose something to get your body moving during pregnancy. I promise your body will thank you during labor and beyond.

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