by Sara Skiles of Wichita Doula LLC
To some people, it’s just a way of life when you have a baby. You go to the hospital and get one when it starts to hurt. To others, it’s scary or unnecessary and something to avoid. To many, it falls somewhere in the middle. Whatever your thoughts may be, a doula is a helpful and enriching part of any birth plan.
Your doula knows that it’s your prerogative to have an epidural or not, planned or unplanned. As a doula who has supported many parents before, during, and after receiving an epidural, I’ve learned some things that may help ease your mind.
Sometimes an epidural is needed to get the baby out.
There are many different circumstances in which an epidural means the difference in getting the baby out safely and/or avoiding a cesarean. Maternal exhaustion, inability to relax, stalled out labor, and other conditions are situations that may benefit from epidural anesthesia and hasten a safe delivery.
You will still experience a lot of emotional and physical changes.
When you are in labor, you are experiencing a whirlwind of hormones like no other. Physical changes such as trembling and nausea are common, as well as emotional changes such as elation, fear, excitement, tears, and feelings of overwhelm. An epidural may diminish or eliminate the pain of contractions, but you can still very much be present in the labor and feeling everything else that goes along with it.
Sometimes (rarely) they don’t work.
It’s not terribly common, but there is always a possibility that the epidural will not work. Or, it could only work on one side of your body. In a case like this, your doula can remind you to talk through your other options and give you some coping techniques to help you deal with the contractions. And that reminds me…
You can totally still benefit from a doula.
We don’t really do anything that different in an unmedicated birth. We’re still encouraging and coaching you. We’re still wiping your brow, holding your hand, refilling your water, and helping you change positions in the bed. We’re still doing the hundred little things that make your birth an extra special, unforgettable experience for you and your partner.
We don’t judge you for getting an epidural.
And if your doula tries to talk you out of it, or makes a disdainful face, or up and leaves your birth because you chose one, she’s not a professional doula. Period. Professional doulas are trained to support parents’ goals and not push their own agenda. If your goals happen to include pain management, we respect your intuition and choices and help you reach those goals.
Sara Skiles, owner of Wichita Doula LLC, is a certified doula and mother of two. She has supported all types of parents in a variety of birth plans and sees the beauty in each one. Visit her blog at http://www.wichitadoula.com/-blog/