Nashville’s Birthing Resources and Classes

We’re talking babies again! So far we have covered: birthing facilities/options, doulas, and lightly talked about birth plans. Now we are going to talk about childbirth classes, lactation consultants, and vaccine choices.

The old saying of “You don’t know what you don’t know” is so true when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Pre-pregnancy me found the thought of childbirth classes silly.  Who needs to be told how to breathe?! We’ve seen it done in movies thousands of times over! Pregnant and ‘crunchy’ Becca, however, quickly learned I was so naïve. Sure, if you aren’t too concerned about pain management and want your epidural (which is totally fine!) there aren’t as many options you really need to worry about. If you, however, are someone that is really trying for a natural birth you get to choose between Hypnobabies, Hypnobirth, Bradley Method, Lamaze, Birthing From Within, and many others.  Who knew!?

All of these methods have their benefits, so it really is a matter of finding which works best for you and your birthing partner. Ask yourself how you respond to pain, how you manage pain, and what you picture yourself doing during labor. Many women have a visual in their head of what that delivery room activity looks like and that can really help narrow things down. We chose Hypnobabies (I didn’t know there was a difference in Hypnobabies and Hypnobirth at the time) Home Study. Admittedly, I didn’t really stick with it and never even broke it out during delivery, but have heard the in-person classes are far more valuable.

There are also many other classes offered in our area. These include Newborn Care, Sibling Care, and even breastfeeding courses. The one course I really regret not taking last time was the nursing class. I really went through pregnancy thinking, “nursing is natural, you just put the baby to your breast and he/she feeds.” Remember that saying I mentioned earlier about not knowing what you don’t know? Yeah I learned quickly after delivery that Lactation Consultants are true angels!

Because my labor was so long and had some complications, nursing was affected a bit. Add in a small lip tie and lots of food sensitivities and it was a perfect storm for frustration, tears, and prayers. Since I delivered at Vandy, I had the ability to go back and utilize their lactation services a few times after leaving the hospital and this helped a ton! After a few months, I then started attending a group called Weigh to Go Baby. Mothers met with their babes and we weighed the babies, nursed, and then weighed again to measure how much milk the babies were actually getting. This was super helpful for me to see that he was getting enough.

There are also private companies that offer lactation services. Most everyone in our area that has a baby knows the name Kate Cropp and I highly suggest her group! She is wonderful and so knowledgeable. Then there is also La Leche League. Depending on what area you live in, you can attend the group meeting and get a load of valuable help and info. Another source to use is This site is great if you want to read info online, check how often you should nurse at any given time, and get answers to many other random nursing questions.

Now, to a topic that ruffles a lot of feathers - vaccine choices…yes I said choices. Because it can be such a sensitive topic, I am going to keep this one pretty light. Regardless of your stance, as parents we are all on the same side - making a choice that we know to be in our child’s best interest. Period. Anytime a decision involves possible mandates and those mandates involve corporate profit, we should all be able to make an informed parental choice and go from there. 

I’ve had people ask my thoughts on vaccinations or what we chose to do.  While I answer their questions, my biggest push is to make sure they make an informed decision. Don’t just read one side of the argument or listen to one person’s opinion, take the time to read both sides, read vaccine inserts, watch movies, read books, ask your pediatrician. After all of that, then decide where you stand on everything. I’m a big supporter of having an open mind - I wouldn’t be in an alternative field if I wasn't!

In the state of Tennessee you can be vaccinated fully on schedule, vaccinate on an adjusted schedule, or choose to avoid vaccinations with a religious or medical exemption. The choice is completely yours as the parent. This goes for any vaccinations at birth, too. The Hepatitis B and Vitamin K vaccines are the two most widely discussed after birth choices, along with the ‘eye goop’. Until July 1 st , 2016, it was actually a misdemeanor in our state to opt out of the antibiotic eye ointment, although many hospitals did not enforce the charges. Many women feel that the routine procedure is not necessary if the mother was not put at risk for Gonorrhea or Chlamydia and tested negative for it during pregnancy. As for the Vitamin K shot, some women choose to use liquid vitamin k drops on a designated schedule to help boost baby’s levels - the most popular brand of drops is from our Biotics line.

These are all big decisions as a parent! Do your research, find where you stand, and then find a doctor that you feel not only comfortable with medically, but that also supports your decision. Just as some parents look for pediatricians with separate sick waiting rooms and Saturday office hours, many look for doctors that do or don’t support vaccinations across their patient base.

Nashville Birth and Babies

Nashville Birth Network

Vaccine Inserts

Nashville’s Birthing Centers and Other Options for ‘Crunchy’ Mamas

This past weekend I was talking to my sister back home in Illinois. It is a really exciting time in our family because both she and I are having little girls and are due within just a few weeks of each other. As we were talking, the usual topic of pregnancy and delivery came up and it made me realize how fortunate I am to live in an area that has so many resources for pregnant women and new moms. The town I come from back home has wonderful healthcare, but the network of doulas, midwives, and other birthing resources are really just starting to gain traction. Since becoming pregnant, I’ve had patients ask me many questions about my choices, plans, and options; so I thought a blog post would be a great way to give our patients some resources. It’s a bit long, so grab a glass of water and get comfy!

I grew up with the typical picture in my mind of what delivery looked like. You lie in a bed, get an epidural and then the baby comes out. After becoming more holistic and naturally-minded, I realized there is a whole other world out there. Led by the push from the Vanderbilt Midwives, Nashville has had at least one hospital that has offered laboring tubs for a few years now. In the last couple of years since I had our son, Vanderbilt is no longer the only hospital with that option. Women wanting a hospital birth with a natural approach, now have the option of midwives and laboring tubs at both Vanderbilt and St. Thomas Midtown (formerly Baptist). While you still can’t birth in the tubs at either hospital, I can say from experience the tubs help tremendously with pain regulation during labor. Even if you find yourself not able to get one of the tubs, the midwives staff is very open to letting you walk, move, take a warm shower, and try other means of pain management.

Up until 2013 women in this area had only two options if they didn’t want a home birth and didn’t want a hospital birth-and neither option was very close to home. The Farm in Summertown is a nationally- known resource for natural births and home to the famous Ina May Gaskin-she has a few books that I highly suggest reading if you want a natural birth! While this is a great and valuable option to have so near us, it is still about 65 miles from Cool Springs and this scared me off the first time around. The other option women had was to drive to the Infinity Birth Center in Cookeville-still over an hour away.

In 2013, Baby & Co opened their doors on West End. With their opening, women in our area now have a close option for a natural non-hospital/non- home birth. Women that choose to birth there can labor AND birth in the tubs, the rooms are very ‘home-y’, and your post-partum stay is only 6-12 hours. The center is staffed by Certified Nurse Midwives and one of my favorite midwives formerly on the Vanderbilt team -Lauren Drees - is there and she is so, so amazing. Baby & Co was a serious consideration for us this pregnancy, but because of the trust and relationships I built with the Vandy Midwives last time and the grace they gave to allow me to have the birth I wanted while in a hospital, we stuck with the Vandy Midwives again this time.

The other option women have is a home birth. This option can have the least interventions and the most peace for many mamas. You can truly assemble your birth ‘Dream Team’ and be in the comfort of your home the whole time. Labor tubs are also available for rent or purchase so you can literally birth anywhere you feel most at ease in your home. Women that choose this option most always have a midwife for prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care; a doula; and a support person. I have known friends to also utilize their chiropractors and practitioners of other healing mechanisms like acupuncture to help the ease of delivery, as well. If you know you want a natural birth, don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, and are fine not being in a hospital-this is a GREAT option for you!

With this pregnancy I am using a new resource I didn’t take advantage of the first time-a Doula! Vanderbilt Midwives offer free volunteer doula services during delivery on an on-call basis, so I was exposed to the benefits with the first pregnancy. For whatever reason, I just never hired one and figured we would just use the on-call doula when we got there. My labor wasn’t exactly textbook and didn’t go as planned-I don’t know why I thought it would- so I never got to take advantage of the on-call doula either. This time around I knew it was a must-have and we have teamed with Whitney Cantrell of Nashville Doula Services. We are blessed to have many doulas in the Nashville area. Some operate on their own and others are in a group. We chose Whitney because of a referral from our son’s pediatrician and I must say she is so great!

Doulas are a valuable asset during delivery to help you with different birthing positions, natural pain management options, and to be that voice of reason and knowledge when you and your partner are in the thick of things. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t remembering every birth wish and desire I had in our birth plan when we were in hour 20 of active labor. Nashville Doula Services also has other services they offer and packages to take advantage of on their website (I will list all resources at the end of this post). One thing I haven’t stopped bragging about to my sister is the Postpartum Care. With my first delivery, I was very blessed to have my husband home for a week, my mother-in- law stay with us for almost a week, and my mother stay with us as well. All were very helpful while I adjusted to this new life. My only hang-up was the lack of time alone and independence I had during that time. With Nashville Doula Services, I am using a package that offers postpartum care along with the family help. You can use it in chunks of time with a minimum of 4 hours each time. The doula comes over to help watch the baby while you shower, sleep, stare out the window, or… stuff your face with chocolate. She will also help with light household items like putting dinner together for you.

We’ve covered many of the prenatal and birthing options that are at our fingertips in the Nashville area. No matter what location you choose to birth in, make sure to write down a birth plan that you feel confident with. One that includes the atmosphere/vibe you want in the delivery room, your wishes for pain management, your wish for or against an episiotomy, and what you would like to happen immediately after the baby comes. There are many templates out there to work from. Just Google ‘Birth Plan’ and find one that flows well for you. Some ideas for your birth plan that I used are:

‘low lights’
‘calming music’
‘ability to eat light snacks and drink water when desired’
‘labor in the tub’
‘no one speak directly to me about epidurals, relay everything through my husband’
‘ability to push in any position I find comfortable’
‘skin to skin for at least 30 minutes with delayed cord-clamping after baby’s arrival’

Whatever location you choose is right for you, ask many questions and make sure you feel confident and comfortable with your choice. The biggest thing for me was to make sure I felt listened to and respected going into the delivery. I didn’t want to feel forced into anything. Thankfully I never felt that way and the Vandy Midwives supported me even when there was a push from an OB for a C-section almost 24 hours after arriving at the hospital. Most importantly, if your delivery doesn’t go as planned and you end up with an epidural or a c-section- DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! You are still an incredible mother that carried your baby for 9 months, made positive choices for his/her care, and did what you could to birth as naturally as you wanted.

Stay tuned for the follow up post on birthing classes, lactation consultants, vaccines, and other postpartum choices!

Vanderbilt Nurse Midwives

Infinity Birth Center-Cookeville

Baby & Co

Nashville Doula Services

The Farm-Summertown