“I’m having an epidural, so a doula won’t be necessary for me.”
Oh, how often we’ve heard this sentiment – and it couldn’t be further from the truth! There are a ton of misconceptions out there about doula support, but one of the biggest and most insidious is the idea that doulas only support unmedicated. “natural” labors.
In truth, a doula is someone who supports parents in reaching their unique goals and desires for their birth – not just a certain “type” of birth. A professional doula will not only support your epidural, induction, Cesarean, water birth, or what-have-you, but actively help you to achieve a pleasant experience in your desired birth plan.
So now that you know we will happily support you during pregnancy and birth if you are choosing to receive epidural anesthesia, let’s talk about some of the practical reasons you’re going to be thrilled about our services:
Just because you may not need to be coached through the discomfort of contractions, doesn’t mean that your mind and body aren’t still going through a massive transformation. You will still be faced with a lot of decisions and choices to make, beeping machines, medical procedures, and at least some level of physical discomfort at different times throughout the process. Additionally, you may experience a lot of emotional changes including excitement, anxiety, fear, overwhelm, and uncertainty. You deserve calm and rock-solid support throughout the ups and downs of labor – even when you’re not doubled over with uterine contractions.
Nurses come and go through shift changes, family members wander in and out, new residents come in to check you. Your doula is the one constant who will be there to support you and your partner the entire way. Since she doesn’t have to perform medical tasks, fill in paperwork, or check on other patients, her attention is freed up to focus solely on your needs. You will be able to enjoy light conversation, massages, distraction, sips of your favorite beverage, and information to make choices regarding your care with a doula by your side the whole time. Your doula also supports your spouse or partner, ensuring that they are always aware of what’s going on and can take a guilt-free food or bathroom break when needed.
Not to scare you or anything, but it’s actually true: in some rare cases, an epidural may not work on some people. It may only work on one side, or numb your legs and not your abdomen. If you’ve planned an epidural as your means of relief and comfort during labor and haven’t secured a doula or taken any birthing classes, it would be very disappointing and possibly even traumatic to end up having an experience like this. Many parents also wish to hold off on the epidural as long as possible in order to facilitate labor progress. In this case, a doula is invaluable support to help coach and support you through early labor and help you determine when to ask for your epidural. Finally, it takes time to call the anesthesia team and be prepped for an epidural. If your labor starts out intensely or moves quickly, doula support can help you stay calm and confident as you wait it out.
So when you’re filling out your birth plan and checking off the little “yes” box next to “epidural”, give an extra thought to securing a doula to enhance your comfortable birth experience with gentle and professional prenatal and labor support!