"I was so glad you were there. When I hired you, I honestly didn’t know what you would do. I knew I was going to have the epidural, so I thought I wouldn’t really need anything from you. But you actually helped us so much - especially during pushing!”
-Kelly, GR Doulas client who labored on an epidural
with her husband & doula by her side.
Many people think doula support is only needed when planning an unmedicated birth. At GR Doulas, we support families through a variety of birthing experiences. Is getting an epidural a priority on your birth plan? Here are five reasons why you may still want to consider hiring a doula:
1.You will still be in labor.
If you choose to go the epidural route during labor, you might not feel the contractions in the same way that you would without anesthesia. However, a basic truth remains: you are still in labor! The complexly orchestrated, physiologic process of birthing a baby is still a life-changing experience that can bring about unexpected twist and turns. The emotions you (and your partner!) may feel throughout this process, or how you will handle them, are hard to predict ahead of time. The emotional support of an experienced doula will be invaluable for any unforeseen events. She is trained to help you process the emotional reactions to labor and birth, which will facilitate a more positive perception of the experience.
2. Birth doula support has proven benefits.
The informational and practical support a doula provides can help you achieve a safer birth. According to Evidence Based Birth, laboring women who are supported by doulas reduce their risk of needing pitocin by 31% and reduce their risk of having a cesarean section by 28% (1). On average, women who have continuous professional labor support have labors that are 40 minutes shorter than women who don’t (2). (please note: these statics are from studies that look at a vast group of laboring women, not specifically those with epidural anesthesia.)
One very advantageous thing you can do for your labor is to use movement and positioning to help your baby get into an ideal position for birth. This can be a little more challenging when you are hooked up to an epidural and all the monitors that come with it. Don’t worry though! Your doula has training and experience to help you labor in a way that is most productive to birthing your baby within the movement restrictions of an epidural.
3. There are no guarantees an epidural will work the way you want it to.
Like anything else in birth or medicine, there are no guarantees about the effectiveness of an epidural. While this form of anesthesia is very effective most of the time, in our experiences working with birthing women and listening to their stories, we’ve found some women have been unpleasantly surprised. Some women have reported that their epidurals were only effective on one side. Sometimes it wears off during labor and you’ll need to call the anesthesiologist back into your room to give you more medication. Women who opt for an epidural and a doula tend to be very thankful for their labor coach if they experience any of these surprises!
4. Early labor can be intense and uncomfortable.
To reduce some of the potential risks of an epidural, it can be wise to wait until active labor to have it placed (3). Additionally, you need to get yourself to the hospital, get through triage and the admitting process, and page (and potentially wait for) the anesthesiologist before you can start enjoying the effects of medication. You will probably be very grateful if you have a professional doula to by your side to help you cope with intensity of labor contractions during this time.
5. There is more to having a baby than just labor and delivery.
Doulas support families prenatally to help them prepare for their births. This can be helpful in calming any anxiety you may be feeling about your upcoming birth. After delivery doulas are there to help mothers establish breastfeeding (if that is her choice) and provide support through any post-delivery medical procedures. Additionally most doulas come to the home for a postpartum visit around one week after the birth to make sure the family is adjusting to life to with a newborn and talk through any questions the family may have about their birth experience. Families who would like even more support, also have the option of hiring a postpartum doula! - http://www.grdoulas.com/postpartum-support *Can this be done such a way that the words postpartum doula contain the link? So someone just has to click on those words?