An epidural can be an amazing thing! There's a reason why 60% of women who give birth in the U.S. choose to get one during labor. Many women feel like their birth experience is more positive after receiving an epidural, and I have seen laboring women that I'm working with become so much more relaxed, focused, and finally able to catch their breath and rest after opting for one. For many women, just knowing that an epidural is part of the plan, when labor becomes too painful and intense, relieves some of the anxiety associated with the unknowns of being in labor and having a baby.
I've had several women tell me, “Oh, I don't need a doula. I'm planning to get an epidural.” Or they think that a doula will only support women who want a natural birth. Before I became a doula and when I first started my training, I thought the same thing! I now know that having a doula is a great resource, no matter what kind of birth you are planning to have.
Your doula sees the bigger picture, and is there for you and your partner before, during, and after labor. As a continuous and trusted presence, your doula is there to help you understand the labor process, what your labor will look like and how it will change when you get an epidural. Your doula wants you to be informed and in control of your birth and can provide information and suggest questions you can ask your health care provider.
Even if you are planning to get an epidural, a doula can support you while you labor at home and when you first arrive to the hospital. The transition from laboring at home to getting set up in the hospital and receiving an epidural will take some time. Knowing different methods to cope with the labor pain and any anxiety you feel will help make the transition easier. An epidural is just one form of pain management. A doula will help with other relaxation techniques before you get the epidural and can show you epidural friendly positions as you labor. You won't be able to move around as freely, but you can still change positions while in the bed, which will help you as you labor.
Your doula has a peanut ball and knows how to use it!
The peanut ball is most commonly used when a laboring mother needs to stay in bed. Studies show that epidurals lengthen the amount of time women spend in labor. Lengthy labors and ineffective pushing increase your chances of needing a c-section. Your doula will help you use a peanut ball to promote dilation and descent, change positions while you're in bed, and stay relaxed, which can help shorten your labor and make it less likely that you will need a c-section! Getting an epidural won't necessarily take away your anxiety about giving birth. Having someone with you, however, who is familiar with the labor process and can be reassuring and help you feel more confident and relaxed.
Your doula will also be a great resource to your birth partner! Sometimes our birth partners are so focused on their loved one, they forget to take care of themselves! A doula is there to provide an extra pair of hands and remind both of you to rest and stay nourished. As Cynthya describes in one of her posts about the role of a doula,
"A doula can preserve the intimacy of the birthing room and be a consistent care provider for you and your partner. Doulas maintain the ambiance of a labor room, keep good energy flowing, and help limit distractions, which allows the couple to relax and know they are cared for. Your doula wants to make sure that you both enjoy the birth of your child and has only your interest in mind. After all, birth is her passion and you've hired her for this special event - use her to your full advantage."
Your doula is on your team and trusts that you are a strong and capable woman who can listen to your body and decide what kind of birth you want to have and wants to help you embrace whatever forms of pain management you decide to use. She will be there supporting you along the way.
Review your options for building your support team by reading the profiles of our dream team.