When people learn I am a Doula, I hear a variety of responses. Lately this one keeps popping up. “I want an epidural, hook me up to the drugs!” So often it is assumed that doulas and epidurals don't mix, that they can't go together. Plenty of my clients choose to have epidurals, some tell me on our very first visit that it is a must.
Doulas are there to support the birth you want. Home birth, hospital, birth centre, epidural, or no epidural. When I support my clients I use my skills, experience, and education to provide the best support I can based on their birth plan.
So what does a doula do when you have an epidural?
When you are in labour you will have to experience some contractions before being given an epidural. Having a doula will help you prepare for what to expect during early labour before an epidural is given. Doulas can walk you through the process of getting an epidural so you feel calm and ready when the time comes.
After an epidural, a doula will make sure you are feeling relaxed and comfortable. Most of my clients enjoy a leg or arm massage. This may be a time when your partner will want to nap, grab a snack, update family or friends, perhaps you don't want to be alone, your doula will stay. Once you have an epidural it is important to switch from lying on one side to the other. A doula will use different techniques to help you remain comfortable and encourage your labour to keep going. A peanut ball can be a great tool to use when you have an epidural, a doula can help facilitate positions with this.
Once you begin to reach transition and are ready to push, a doula will help guide you. An epidural may take away those feelings/urges to push so you may actually need extra coaching during this time. There is so much more to birth than epidural or no epidural. Whichever you decide, having a doula will not be something you regret. An epidural doesn't mean you don't need and deserve continuous support during your birth. Consider the whole picture, an epidural might just be part of the story.