How to Choose a Doula

How to Choose a Doula

Your due date is approaching, and you’ve done ALL of the research on pregnancy and labor. Your partner will be with you in the delivery room, but you’re wondering if you might need more support; for both of you. A doula is a great option to prep you for your trial of labor, delivery room support, and postpartum assistance. How do you choose a doula? You keep reading this blog post, that’s how!!!

Choosing a Doula

Check Out DONA

DONA International is the organization for doulas. DONA provides training and certification for doulas across the globe, including birth doulas and postpartum doulas. If you want a doula that is worth her salt, she will have a DONA certification (or will be working towards it). This should be the first website you visit when you begin your search for a doula. Not only are you able to search for DONA certified doulas in your area on this site, you can also learn EVERYTHING there is to know about what a doula does, how she does it, and what to look for when hiring a doula.

Other resources you can look into include (this is where I found my doula!). Local hospitals and birth centers might also have a few doulas on tap that with which they have a good rapport. Also, don’t forget to check out natural food stores and yoga studios. Many of these co-op style, holistic based businesses have connections to doulas.

Schedule an Interview

Once you’ve conducted a good amount of research, it’s time to find a few doulas and schedule some interviews! Yay! Exciting! Try to connect with 2 or 3 doulas to interview. Trust me, you may not think so now, but once you get into that birthing room, you’re going to be pretty picky about who you do and do not want in there with you. Interviewing more than one doula helps you to make sure you choose the right person for your birthing experience.

It’s okay if you don’t know how to interview for a doula. DONA has a great interview script you can follow on their How to Hire a Doula page. I used this hiring guide for my doula interviews, and it helped tremendously with making sure the doula we hired was the right one.

I conducted my interviews over the phone and in person. We decided to meet at a coffee shop for our in-person interviews. The neutral location helped keep things professional, and we were able to get some pastries and coffee. Which is awesome regardless of whether or not you are pregnant.

Things to keep in mind when you’re interviewing:

  1. This woman will see you naked. And not just naked. She will see all of your bid-ness. All of it.
  2. Remember that she will be there as a support person, and unless she’s also a nurse or a midwife she will not be able to provide medical assistance in the form of communicating your wishes to your care team, or by any physical exams or interventions.
  3. Hiring a doula is an investment, and she will work her butt off for you. Believe me. Doula’s are worth their weight in gold and she will be worth every single penny of your investment. But her fee’s shouldn’t break your bank. If hiring her is going to put a serious ding in your budget, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of having a doula and not having one. And if a doula is a must have, but her fees are looking a little out of your budget, talk to her about your options. Many doulas are very reasonable and receptive to your family’s needs, and may be able to work out a payment plan.

Final Thoughts

After your interviews, you will have to decide who to hire. The best advice I can give you? Go with your gut. Trust your instinct on which person is going to be the best doula for you. If the person you are leaning towards has only attended one birth, and is currently working towards her DONA certification, that’s perfectly okay. Inexperience does not equal unqualified.

The doula we hired was amazing, and she was working towards her certification and had only attended one birth prior to mine (minus her own births). And I was totally fine with her not being officially certified. She had the training. She had the experience of her own births. And she had a personality that just clicked with mine and my husbands.

Plus, I knew that working with her meant that she was one step closer to gaining her DONA certification, which would allow her to continue working with other women who want to hire amazing doulas like her. Which made me feel pretty good.

Lastly, remember that this is your birth experience and yours alone. Don’t let anyone try to deter you from hiring a doula because it’s a luxury or an unnecessary expense. Like I said earlier, doulas are worth their weight in gold and I honestly can’t imagine what my labor would have been like without mine. Hubby agrees, and also couldn’t imagine going through my labor without her (if you want to read about my labor, check out our story here!).

Long story short, treat yo’self and get a doula, mama. You won’t regret it.

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

10 Items to Skip on Your Baby Registry

10 Items to Skip on Your Baby Registry

Creating our baby registry was one of my favorite milestones of the pregnancy. Yes, feeling kicks for the first time was amazing. But the baby registry? So much fun to go shopping with my Hubby and let him go full Han Solo with the blaster registry gun. It’s also easy to go overboard and register for things you don’t actually need, or that you shouldn’t even buy.

After registering for and over-receiving/over-buying items, I can tell you first hand what you do and do not need to waste time registering for. Here are 10 items to skip when you’re creating your baby registry.  

Items to Skip on Your Registry

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Car Seat Accessories

Though squishy and adorable, these accessories are unnecessary and actual decrease the safety and effectiveness of your car seat. In the event of a crash, these accessories could void the warranty on your car seat. These could be anything from infant headrests, shoulder straps, custom fabric covers, and even toys that attach to the straps or carry handle.


Seriously… don’t bother registering for ANY clothing. You will get a TON of it. Also, just a little FYI from someone who’s worked retail: clothing is seasonal, and will often not be around/available for purchase in the span of when you are registering for items and when you have your baby shower. Unless you want something that is extremely specific or custom made, I recommend skipping any clothing additions to your registry.

Crib Accessories

Again, squishy and adorable, but unnecessary and could cause more harm than good. Skip the crib bumpers, pillows and additional padding. Infants can roll over a lot sooner than you expect, and bumpers can be a suffocation hazard if baby rolls into one while sleeping. All you need is a couple of fitted sheets and you are good to go.


Once thought to help babies learn to walk more quickly, walkers have actually been shown to do more harm than good when it comes to lower body alignment and proper walking. Plus, kiddo could take a tumble down the stairs if he’s not properly supervised. Your baby has everything he needs to learn how to walk on his own. No accessory needed for this milestone.10 Items to Skip on Your Registry Visual

Food Processor

Yes, making homemade baby food is a more efficient and economical way to introduce your little one to solids, but a baby specific food processor isn’t necessary. This is especially true if you already own a “grown-up” food processor or high power blender like a Ninja or a Vitamix.

If you really want to go the homemade baby food route, get a Ninja or a Vitamix system because a) it’s better quality than the “baby” brands and b) you can make margaritas in them which is basically priceless after you become a parent.

Baby Bathing Cloths & Towels

What if I told you that babies could be washed with normal wash cloths? Mind. Blown. Right? It’s not something you need, but someone will probably end up getting them for you anyway. Same thing with the hooded towels. Super cute, but you can get by with the towels you already have. OR… ooh, yes, brilliant idea right here: you could register for some luxe grown up towels for your bad self, ‘cause you just gave birth and you freaking deserve them.

I kind of wish I would have thought of this sooner… BRB, heading to Target.

Books & Toys

You’re gonna get a bunch of books. I promise. Unless you’re hoping for something specific, skip the baby book aisle during your registry excursion. Same thing as books, people are going to get you toys. And honestly, you will have more stuffed animals than you know what to do with.

Wipe Warmer

Seems like a great idea, and I’m sure it feels phenomenal compared to a cold wipe on the bottom. But what happens when you’re at Target and you have to change a diaper? Sorry but I’m pretty sure you’re not going to be carrying a wipe warmer in your diaper bag, hoping there’s an outlet for your warmer in the Target bathroom so your babe doesn’t have to feel the icy chill of a *gasp* room temperature diaper wipe.

If anything, keep the warmer for yourself for postpartum vagina recovery. It’s like a spa experience every time you wipe. Haha aahaha ahhh… Not really. It still hurts like hell.


Okay kind of weird, I know, but hear me out on this one. You can get the same effect as a bassinet with many of the play yards that are now available. For example, I registered for the Chicco Lullago Bassinet because I knew I would be driving to my parents house quite frequently during the winter, and I wanted something that was portable and easy to breakdown for travel. But I also registered for the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard Snuggle Suite XL, which has an infant sleeper, bouncer, and diaper changing station.

I love both of these products, but the Pack ‘n Play has a much longer use-expectancy than the bassinet. We’ll probably use the bassinet for 4-6 months, tops. The Pack ‘n Play is MUCH more economical in the long run, and it’s just as portable as the Lullago (as long as you don’t bring the changing station and bouncer).


Did I miss anything? Which items do you wish you would have skipped on your registry?

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

5 Books for an Empowered Pregnancy

5 Books for an Empowered Pregnancy

Empowered pregnancy is the best kind of pregnancy in my opinion. Empowerment begins with education and knowledge. A great way to gain knowledge? Books! As a self-proclaimed book-dragon, books are one of my favorite things. When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited for quite a few reasons. One of which was the opportunity to read more books!

I’ve compiled my 5 favorite books that I read while I was pregnant. Bonus: these books build your feelings of confidence and empowerment as you progress through this new and exciting season of your life! Let’s get reading!

5 Books for Empowered Pregnancy

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Pregnancy Childbirth & The Newborn

This is by far my favorite pregnancy book. Pregnancy Childbirth & The Newborn combines the most important aspects of  pregnancy, labor and delivery, and life with a newborn into one easy to digest book. I didn’t discover PCN until I was about 5 months pregnant, but when I did, it became my pregnancy bible.

What makes it so great? I love that it feels more women-focused than some of the other books I checked out. Which honestly seems ridiculous considering that pregnancy is typically woman-focused. What I mean by that is that PCN puts forth the facts and stats about pregnancy and childbirth into the reader’s hands, while simultaneously discussing the options that she might want to consider during her pregnancy or delivery. And the book does it in a way that doesn’t feel condescending or passive aggressive.

Bonus: PCN has a great website that accompanies the book for additional resources, including printable PDFs.

Expecting Better

Every woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant NEEDS to read Expecting Better. Expecting Better challenges the  traditional pregnancy wisdom to shed light on the facts of pregnancy, giving you a sense of empowerment about this amazing time in your life.

Especially in the United States, pregnancy has a history of being treated as a medical problem. It’s something to be treated and monitored, like a disease. And since it’s treated as such, there are many restrictions that have been placed on women in our culture. Restrictions that have pretty much zero medical or statistical significance when you begin to look at the numbers.

Expecting Better gives you a bird’s eye view of the facts about bedrest, caffeine, genetic testing, gardening, sushi, and more.  

The Mindful Mom to Be

Mindfulness is an important quality to possess, regardless of your parenthood status. If you haven’t practiced mindfulness before,  pregnancy is a phenomenal time to start. Why now? Pregnancy is filled with excitement, anticipation, and sometimes anxiety. Mindfulness can help to take the unnecessary stress out of expecting by minimizing reactivity and maximizing observation.

The Mindful Mom to Be discusses the core of mindfulness, why it’s important, and how to practice it before, during, and after your pregnancy. Not only will mindfulness help you to stay calm and collected throughout your pregnancy, it will help tremendously when labor starts, AND when you’re figuring out life with a newborn. Being able to take a step back, clear your mind, and focus on your breath is a HUGELY beneficial practice, and it will help you to keep your sanity during those last few weeks of pregnancy, and the first few months of motherhood.

The Birth Partner

I know what you’re thinking. “Hold up, I thought this was a blog about pregnancy… The Birth Partner is about labor.”  

Correct! My intention here is to focus on the end game. Pregnancy isn’t forever (despite what you may between week 36 and 40). Pregnancy does come to an end, and that’s when labor gets started. The Birth Partner is intended for labor coaches like dads or partners, and doulas, but it’s also great for the people who are doing the actual laboring (i.e. you and me).

The Birth Partner discusses a TON of natural labor techniques and strategies, as well as questions to ask and pathways to consider should any complications arise. It also gives labor coaches a great idea of what to expect from moms as they labor, and how to provide comfort and support during the most trying parts of labor.

This book is great for you and your labor coach to read together, and discuss comfort strategies and the best way to help you both through this exciting time!

Giving Birth With Confidence

Giving Birth with Confidence is another book about the process of labor and delivery. I love this book because it’s the official Lamaze International guide for childbirth. Giving Birth with Confidence made me feel incredibly confident about going into labor.  Before I read this book, I felt uneasy, like I wasn’t sure that my body could handle it. After reading just a few chapters of Giving Birth with Confidence, I felt like a different woman. I was like, “Heck yes, my body was made for this. It knows what to do, and all I have to do is go with the flow.”

Giving Birth with Confidence discusses the traditional OB approach to pregnancy and childbirth, and provides statistical evidence for medical interventions, labor strategies, and the best practices for labor coaches and doulas. It made me feel incredibly empowered to know that my body and my mind will guide me through this process, and that I CAN and WILL come out victorious in the delivery room.

… And Finally

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. One of the most popular pregnancy books of all time is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. So why isn’t it included in this list? In the past 5-7 years, What to Expect has received some backlash from the pregnant community as being outdated and “dumbed down” for the modern pregnant woman.   

Many of the concepts in What to Expect are based on traditional advice and recommendations from the American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Which on the surface seems great, but ACOG has a history of focusing on the medicalization of childbirth (i.e. more interventions, less natural options).

My opinion? This was the first book I bought when I found out I was pregnant. My focus was to absorb as much information about pregnancy as possible, and I feel like this book was fine for that. As I progressed through my pregnancy, I wanted to explore other viewpoints, which led me to the other books that I’ve listed. What to Expect gives you a good idea of what to expect (get it?) from a traditional OB approach to pregnancy and childbirth, but I wouldn’t call it an empowering book.  

Which books did you read when you were pregnant?

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

How to Embrace Your Inner Queen as a New Mom

How to Embrace Your Inner Queen as a New Mom

Becoming a mom is a crazy journey, and pregnancy is only the beginning. You grow that little one inside of you for 9 long months, doing your best to prepare him for life outside of your womb. Once he arrives, you may feel powerful and vulnerable at the same time; knowing you are all he needs in that moment, but the myriad of choices before you soon come flooding into perspective.

Let’s establish one thing before we dive in: You’re a queen. You just gave birth to a human life, and you deserve to feel like you could rule the world. Embracing that inner queen might not come naturally to some of us, but there are steps we can take to get to know her, and work towards wearing our invisible crowns on the daily. Sound good? Sounds GREAT. Let’s start with why embracing your inner queen is important as a new mom.

Embrace Your Inner Queen

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Why Embrace Your Inner Queen?

Two-words: mommy-guilt. Is that two words or is it one word hyphenated? …The world may never know…

Anyway! Mommy-guilt is real, and it’s as prevalent as ever with social media in our lives. Breast or bottle-feed? Screens or no screens? Should I stay at home or go back to work? Regardless of what a woman chooses, she will almost inevitably be shamed regarding her choices by someone, somewhere. Their shaming may be disguised as well-intentioned advice, but it can cut a mom to the core; making her feel unworthy and unqualified for this new role that she has taken on.

Even the most confident woman can struggle with the choices she faces for her family. What it comes down to is that there are too many choices for moms to sift through these days; all of them touting their benefits versus “the other options.” How is she supposed to know which options are the RIGHT options for her and her family?

A Perfect Solution

The solution: self-love. Self-love starts with recognizing that you are worthy of loving yourself and your decisions, regardless of what else might be out there. When you are confident in your ability to love yourself, you don’t second-guess your intuition and your processes. You make educated decisions like the freaking queen that you are, and you can feel confident that what you are doing is best for YOU. And that is more than good enough: it’s sheer perfection.

How exactly are you supposed to build up this quality of self-love? Just like a muscle, self-love becomes stronger when you exercise it regularly. It can be difficult at first, just like a new workout routine. Eventually, you become stronger and more grounded in your routine; jumping into your practice with vigor for the pride and euphoria you feel once you’ve completed your exercises.  

Self-Love Made Super Simple

To get started on your self-love journey, it’s helpful if you have someone to guide you. It’s kind of like if you’re going to hike a new trail through unfamiliar territory: to get to where you need to be, you’ll want to hire a guide. Could you do it on your own? Sure, but it’s more likely that you could get derailed and lost in the jungle. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The guide is there to simply travel along with you through your journey. She points out the directions you can go, and provides valuable feedback about what strategy might be best for this particular mountain.

Enter Raewyn Sangari, multi-passionate world changer and all-around champion of self-love, encouragement, and everything that is good in this world. As a busy mom and entrepreneur, Raewyn knew that her clients would benefit from self-love routines, but they needed something that was easily digestible and could be implemented quickly in times of crisis (which happens a lot in those first few months as a new mom). She created Embracing Your Inner Queen in 5


Embracing Your Inner Queen in Five is a five-chapter audio course that will jumpstart your self-love journey as you dive into the five areas of self-love. The course includes:

  • 5 Audio Chapters
  • Workbook to Accompany the Audios
  • Bonus e-book,
  • 30-minute soul session with Raewyn

Embracing Your Inner Queen in Five takes you through the five areas of self-love:

  • confidence in your mind,
  • nourishment of your soul,
  • body love,
  • building your community, and
  • supporting the community towards a thriving sisterhood.

The best part about Embracing Your Inner Queen in 5? It takes less time to practice these self-care strategies than it does to change a diaper. Because let’s face it, as a new mom, you don’t have hours to spare for self-care. Raewyn dives into some of the most impactful daily practices that only take a few minutes throughout the day (which is much more manageable with a newborn than most other self-care strategies).

I love that the course is primarily audio content, which means I can listen to it just about anywhere. All I need is my phone and a pair of earbuds, and I’m set to gorge myself on these amazing self-love strategies. Seriously, I’m talking trips to the grocery store, listening in my car, while relaxing in a bubble bath while hubby takes care of the little guy. The list goes on and on.

Even though I’m still pregnant, I know that it’s never too early to start building up my self-love toolbox. With the strategies Raewyn has pulled together in my pocket, I will be much better prepared to face whatever challenges motherhood throws at me.


Oh, and if the course wasn’t awesome enough for you, you also a free tank top with your purchase of Embracing Your Inner Queen in 5! Aren’t these adorable? I’m seriously in love with the Queen In My Own Right tank. And that crown? To DIE for. Whichever one you choose, you’ll rock it. I just know it 😉

Ready to Embrace Your Inner Queen in 5? Head over to the Shield Sisters Initiative and treat yo’self!

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

My Pregnancy at 35 Weeks

My Pregnancy at 35 Weeks

At 35 weeks, I’m officially 88% complete with my pregnancy. I thought it might be fun to give a quick update on how the baby and I are doing, as well as what I still need to do before he arrives. I’ve also included links to a few items that have been super helpful for me for staying comfortable with a full-size watermelon inside of me. Enjoy!

-Mama Brilliance is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Baby K

This kid is a maniac. At 35 weeks, he’s moving around like crazy, and keeping me and hubby entertained with how much my belly moves when he’s dancing. He’s about the size of a butternut squash (around 5 or so pounds and at least 18 inches long). He’s most active at night when I’m laying down, but every once in awhile he starts stretching and spinning when I’m driving or riding in the car. He also likes to kick me in the ribs, which is really, really great.


Graphic made with BabyStory App

Hubby finished up the assembly for the nursery items, and we’re almost ready to unveil the final product to the world. Our baby shower was a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you, people must love us or something because we received some AMAZING gifts. It was so wonderful to reconnect with so many friends and family members at the shower, and we are so thankful for all of the support we have received so far during the pregnancy and in preparation for Baby K’s arrival.

I’ll be writing more about what we registered for and our favorite products in a week or two, and I’ll be doing a recap of what works best for our little guy once he arrives and has had a chance to try everything out.

How I’m Doing

To be honest, the pregnancy hasn’t been too terrible up until now. I’ve had sciatica throughout the pregnancy, but it’s really starting to pick up now that Baby K is getting closer to full term size, and pressing on nerves. My doctor also diagnosed me with symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), which is basically code for “your pubic bone is separating.” It gets worse with bending or lifting, as well as if I’m walking around too much; which is a doubled edged sword because I’m trying to stay as active as possible to build up my strength before delivery, but if I move around too much, the SPD flares up and I can’t walk. #pregnant

To combat the sciatica, I bought a pelvic belt similar to this one. The belt helps tremendously when I’m standing or walking around, but it’s not great while sitting. It also doesn’t do much for the SPD, but hey if I can get some relief from the sciatica, I consider that a win.

If you have a job that requires a lot of standing or walking or you’re a busy mom that needs a little extra support while being upright, I highly recommend getting yourself a maternity support belt of some sort. Also make sure to talk to your doctor to discuss the options of chiropractic, acupuncture/acupressure, or even physical therapy.

I’m also just starting to experience less sleep at night. Part of that is because of the sciatica and the SPD, but it’s also just really difficult to roll over when you’re holding a basketball in  your stomach. I had originally purchased the hiccapop Pillow Wedge as my main pregnancy pillow, but much like The Little Mermaid, I want morrreee.

Hubby picked up a Snoogle for me, which is a more traditional pregnancy pillow that’s about 6 feet long, and kind of wraps around you to provide support for your neck, back, hips, and knees. I’m loving it so far, and I use it in combination with my hiccapop Wedge for extra support underneath my belly. I would say if you’re going to get the Snoogle, make sure to buy an extra cover for it. The one that it comes with is fine, but it’s a bear to get on and off after washing, and trying to finagle a 6-ft body pillow cover onto your pillow while your baby kicks you in the ribs is not my idea of a good time.  

I’m also feeling pretty puffy. Normal pregnancy weight gain for individuals at a healthy BMI before pregnancy is between 25-35lbs, and at week 35, I’ve officially gained 32lbs. Some of that is the baby, and some of it is increased blood volume and water retention from growing a human. But let’s be real, I’ve also gained a full cup size (at least) in my bra, and my thighs are definitely juicier than they used to be. The only real issue I have with the weight gain is that it’s officially much worse trying to find a bra that fits correctly and that doesn’t constrict my ribs.

It’s also starting to really set in that we are going to have a baby in 5 weeks. Like, holy crap, is this pregnancy really truly coming to it’s final weeks? I feel like I’ve been pregnant for years, and now I’m finally going to have something to show for it? YES. That’s a pretty good feeling.

Plans Before Delivery

After my preterm labor (PTL) experience, Hubby and I buckled down and got a lot of our Baby To-Do’s wrapped up, just in case our little guy decided to pull another PTL stunt (you can read about that here). We still have a few things to finalize, but we are pretty much ready for Baby K to arrive whenever he is ready (hopefully not for a few more weeks!).

The last few things we need to do include:

  • Pick our pediatrician.
  • Finish our birth class.
  • Pack our hospital bags.
  • Make some freezer meals (I’m lookin’ at you, Pinterest).
  • Hire a pet-sitter.

And that’s about it! I still can’t believe we’re only a few weeks away from meeting our little guy. It kind of blows my mind, and I’m not entirely sure how to handle it. One day at a time, I suppose!


How did you prepare for your little one’s arrival in the last few weeks?

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

My Preterm Labor Event and What I Learned

My Preterm Labor Event and What I Learned

Preterm labor isn’t something I was expecting. All signs pointed to a pregnancy of 40 weeks or more. For 27 weeks and 6 days I was in a low-risk pregnancy. Then 28 weeks hit, and something changed. I started experiencing bleeding and contractions. I called my doctor, and he told me to come in so they could assess the situation. Sure enough, my body was experiencing preterm labor symptoms, and we needed to slow it down. I was ambulanced to one of the best maternal fetal medicine units in the state, and measures were taken to minimize the contractions, and to get baby ready for birth (just in case he decided to come early).

After 24 hours in the hospital, contractions had stopped thanks to a magnesium sulfate drip and rest. Baby boy did great the entire time, kicking and dancing up a storm all weekend, with zero evidence of fetal stress. The care team was even impressed at how active he was, and how fully developed he was for 28 weeks. At about 40 hours in the hospital, the doctors decided to discharge me, since the baby and I were doing great. Thankfully, I was able to stay pregnant, and baby boy is still a movin’ and a shakin’.

Preterm labor is never something you plan for, but incidentally it happens in about 12% of all pregnancies. Even though I was seemingly low-risk, with virtually no medical or lifestyle risks for premature labor, I experienced an event. What does this tell me? Well… not much actually. Even the doctors weren’t entirely sure why the contractions and the bleeding started. But I learned a lot from this experience, and my hope is that by sharing what I have learned that another mama-to-be will feel more confident and secure in her pregnancy.

My Preterm Labor Event

Amenities Are Secondary to Care

This sounds rather obvious, but there is an important point to make here. When I first found out I was pregnant, I knew that we would be moving at the start of my third trimester. I began to look around at the various hospitals of the locations we could be moving to, and I fell in love with St. Luke’s in Duluth, MN. The hospital recently renovated their maternity floor, and it looks amazing.

It has tubs for birthing in just about every room, and they focus on baby-centered care, meaning that after your baby is born (as long as everything is okay with mom and baby), baby gets to stay in the room with mom and dad. Plus, it actually had decent seating and sleeping areas in each suite for your partner or your family members who would visit or stay with you.

When I saw that setting, I knew that’s where I wanted to deliver. I mean, what more could you want from a delivery experience than to relax like a queen after you’ve given birth?

I’m more clear minded about the whole situation. Yes, amenities are great, especially when you are in recovery. The real work happens during labor and delivery, and a pull out sofa with extra support isn’t going to help keep you calm while you’re pushing.

What you need is an experienced care team who will go the extra mile to make sure you and baby are safe, calm, and healthy. When I was admitted to Yale New Haven’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit, I immediately recognized the level of professionalism and concern for my welfare. This team truly wanted to make me as comfortable as possible, and ensured that every single one of my needs were cared for. They explained every procedure to me; what it was, why they do it, and what side effects to watch for.

The care team at Yale New Haven was beyond anything that I could have hoped for in the event of a threatened preterm labor. I didn’t care that I didn’t have a birthing tub or that my birth plan wasn’t finished. I knew I was in good hands, and that this team was going to keep me and my baby safe.

Simplify Everything

The last thing you want when you go into labor is a complicated checklist of all of the things you need to have with you, or items you need to tell the doctors. The more stuff you bring with you (mentally and physically), the more complicated your delivery is going to be.

Listen, I am all for having an empowered birth experience. You should absolutely be able to get what you want when it comes to giving birth to the human you have been carrying. I want that for you. And I want that for me. Simplifying my expectations and minimizing my “requirements” are going to dramatically increase the level of calm I experience when labor actually happens.

Why? Because I won’t have to grapple with the mental load of potentially struggling with my care team to get what I want out of delivery. This is not about what I want. This is about keeping my baby healthy; allowing both of us to recover in the most optimal way possible.

With that being said, I know that there are tons of birth plans and birth strategies out there to choose from. My recommendation is that if you feel that a birth plan is in your best interest, use one. Keep it simple. The last thing you need is to create this highly detailed birth plan that can’t be followed because of an emergency situation that is out of your hands.

Try to keep your birth plan to less than 2 pages. This will not only simplify the process for you, but for your care team as well. It will be easier to keep everyone on the same page when there aren’t a handful of pages to keep track of.

Preparedness Goes a Long Way

An emergency is after all, not something you plan for, but it doesn’t hurt to take extra steps to make sure you’re ready. I had a pretty good idea of what to bring in a hospital bag for labor. Since I was only 28 weeks, I didn’t have one packed. Thankfully, I was able to stay calm and grounded as I evaluated what I really needed in case I did need to stay overnight. Which thankfully, wasn’t a lot. Again, simplification helped a ton here.

I knew that if I was going to be staying overnight, the hospital would have pretty much everything I needed in the realm of clothing, but I also wanted to make sure I had a couple things in case I needed them, i.e. a zip up sweatshirt, deodorant, a brush, contact solution/glasses, and chapstick. Honestly, that was all I needed. I packed a couple pairs of underwear just in case, but the hospital has disposable ones so I just used those for my stay.

What I’m getting at here is that being prepared can help quite a bit when it comes to minimizing the stress of an emergency situation. Not only does physical preparedness help (packing a go-bag), but mental preparedness as well. Researching procedures and terms ahead of time makes a huge difference when it comes to understanding what your care team is talking about.

This is not to say that you should research every single obstetric procedure known to man and know the exact risk factors and all other scary stuff that goes with it. That is is not the point. The point is to educate yourself so that you are equipped with the knowledge to make the best decisions for you and your baby when the time comes.

Read as many pregnancy and labor/delivery books as you can throughout your pregnancy to help prepare you for the changes your body goes through, your baby’s development, and possible procedures you may need in order to keep both you and baby safe and healthy.

Mindfulness & Affirmations Really Work

Throughout the preterm labor event, I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew that if I stressed myself out unnecessarily, that the stress would only affect my baby to his detriment. My solution was to pray, to be mindful of my mind and my body, and to affirm to myself that whatever happens will happen, and that my baby and I will be safe. These are some of the affirmations I said to myself while I was in the thick of uncertainty.

  • My body knows what to do to keep my baby safe.
  • This event is temporary. This stress will pass.
  • I am confident in myself and the health of my baby.
  • I will keep my baby safe and calm by breathing deeply, and embracing feelings of love and security.

In addition to prayer and strategic breathing exercises, these affirmations helped me to keep my breathing steady, and my mind clear. Yes, I was nervous, and yes, I had fears. But I knew that by repeatedly praying and saying these affirmations that I would ultimately keep myself calm and collected, and be able to make better decisions when necessary.

What I’m Doing Differently

The preterm labor scare taught me a lot of things about myself and what is truly important to me. Because of what I have learned, I’m doing a few things differently than I had planned.

  1. Prepare an emergency bag for my car. Something simple with a change of clothes, a few toiletries, and a couple of snack bars and bottles of water. This bag will be helpful in any emergency, regardless of whether or not I’m pregnant.
  2. Keep a copy of my medical records with me if possible. I want to keep a small record of recent events on my Emergency ID on my phone. That way, if something happens while I’m out and about or alone, whichever hospital I am sent to will have my information and will be able to make more informed decisions about my care. This information will include medications, current medical status (i.e. pregnant), allergies, medical directives for care, etc.
  3. Get a better support system in place. With my husband in the military, there is no telling whether I will be on my own or not. Thankfully, with us moving closer to family, I will have more support options, but this event made me realize that I’m really terrible at making in-person support networks. Online? I’m a freaking pro. But in the real world I’m pretty limited. I’m so thankful for the people who helped us out during the worst of it, seriously you guys are amazing. But I know that having a few more people in the pipeline that can offer assistance is going to ease quite a bit of strain off of my mind.


Thank you for reading my experience with threatened preterm labor. I truly hope that this finds someone where they need it most, and can help them to manage the emotions that go along with this event.

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.