Most of my clients are seeking a natural childbirth and are planning to forego the epidural during their labors. However, for various reasons, some of my clients will utilize an epidural during their birth experience. From time to time, one of my clients or their partner will ask me a question like, “Now that we have the epidural, what is your role? Do you need to stay?” It makes me realize that I did not do enough to educate my clients on how a doula can help them have an amazing birth with an epidural.
So how can a doula help you have an amazing birth with an epidural?
Doulas are amazing at offering physical support during any kind of birth. Even though those with epidurals are usually confined to the bed once they receive an epidural, there is still so much that can be done to help labor stay on track. Doulas help with position changes, comforting touch, and other physical techniques during labor with an epidural. Sometimes someone might still experience discomfort, and they’ve received as much pain medication as they can safely receive. Doulas might still need to apply counter-pressure during back-labor or squeeze a painful hip. There are techniques to simulate walking and squatting, just to name a few. I know sometimes the hospital bed receives a bum rap in the birth community, but there is so much that can be done with a hospital bed! They really can be a helpful tool during any kind of labor.
Many of my clients have certain fears surrounding how their bodies might react to an epidural, and it can be frightening when those fears are realized. Doulas provide a calm and confident presence and are masters of reassurance. They can explain what is going on and how birth tends to progress once an epidural is administered. They can still work on creating a positive and comfortable environment and are still there to support you through anything that happens.
Once someone has received an epidural, they tend to be more aware of their surroundings. They notice the baby’s heart rate on the monitor more and they now notice every single sound and beep from all of the machines. Sometimes clients become anxious because their minds now have more time to anticipate what comes next or what can go wrong. Doulas love to answer any and all questions to provide more information and if they don’t know the answer, they are happy to help you communicate with your nurses or care provider.
By the time you are in labor, you have built a relationship of trust with your doula. Just her presence alone gives you a particular kind of confidence and comfort to help you have an amazing birth. It may seem like she isn’t doing as much as she would if you were having a birth without pain medications, but she is still serving you much the same way as she does with all of her clients- with her very best work. She is giving you her heart and soul in her support for you. She is giving you her confidence in YOU and how amazing you are.
These are just a few ways a doula can help you have an amazing birth with an epidural. Speak with your doula about how you would like her to support you in the event you receive an epidural, even if that is not your goal. It is helpful to know what you would like just in case, so that you can have your very best birth.