Doulas and Epidurals

"Doula" and "Epidural" aren't usually 2 words that you think of in conjunction to one another. *Usually* you think of natural birth when you think of a doula. But that is a common misconception. Sure, some doulas prefer to support natural births and there have been the "horror stories" of doulas leaving the birth once the birthing person chooses an epidural. But I'm going to bust that reasoning and hopefully by the end of this blog, you'll realize that not only is having a doula present if you're planning on having an epidural a good idea, but your doula can also be a valuable member of your birth experience regardless of how you plan on doing birth!

1. Doulas support all birth.

Unmedicated, epidural, cesarean alike, doulas are there to support you through all the changes and unpredicatableness that encompasses birth! 

"The only predictable thing about birth is that birth is unpredictable."

2. Doulas are emotional support.

Birth is more than just physical work - it is emotional work. Even if your birth goes exactly as outlined in your birth plan, you may have a lot of emotional ups and downs happening that you need someone who is there specifically for you and to help you process. But even if your birth plan takes a detour, having a doula present to support you through those decisions, can be the difference in having a positive experience. 

Even if your birth does not go according to plan, that does not always mean your experience will be a bad one. How you feel and are treated is what matters.

3. Epidurals are a pretty great thing.

I know I may catch some heat from this, but let's be honest - nobody likes pain (Ok, some people like pain, but that's another topic for another day for another person). When we have a bad headache and our natural techniques aren't cutting it, we reach for a painkiller. When we are having some serious period cramps, we take Motrin, curl up with a heat pad and sleep it off. When we get work done on our teeth, the dentist numbs us. And when labor gets too intense and our pain threshold is reached, or it's more than we anticipated, there is a medical intervention to help called an epidural. 

Getting an epidural does not mean your body failed you or that you failed your baby or need to throw away your birth plan or are any less in need of a doula's support.

Here are a few practical ways that your doula can help you after you get an epidural:

  • Emotional support - giving you the tools you need to process the things that have happened up to that point. 
  • Suggesting and helping you move into position changes so that you're not only comfortable, but also allowing your body to work for you still. 
  • Making sure you are hydrated and can rest.
  • Reminding your partner to rest, hydrate, use the restroom and get something to eat. Many partners don't want to leave because they feel guilty about leaving their partner alone.
  • Encouraging you in the rest of your birth plan. Maybe since you got an epidural, you think that your plans for how you wanted coached pushing, skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, breastfeeding, and so many more aspects in your birth preferences changed. But no - your birth plan can and should evolve with the situation. 

An epidural can mean a positive birth experience for many women. And having a doula to walk with you every step of the way can make it that much better!