Epidurals are an AMAZING tool, and I totally support their use. That might surprise you to hear coming from a doula, if you’re used to the stereotype that doulas only support unmedicated births, or if you’ve only interacted with that type of doula. But, remember, I work to support the kind of birth my clients want. And a lot of people want a birth that involves an epidural!
Doulas and epidurals can be fantastic and complementary ingredients in the recipe of a wonderful birth experience. Here are just four of the most important reasons to hire a doula when you’re planning for an epidural.
1. You deserve emotional support, not just physical support.
A doula serves as an emotional support person through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. Epidurals serve as pain management techniques for a particular part of labor.
Epidurals may take away pain, but they do not take away your thoughts and feelings about the enormity of giving birth. Emotional support during labor and delivery is key. Having a member of your support team who is experienced in emotional support through these events is even better. If you’re looking for that member, you won’t find it in the bottom of a bottle of anesthesia! But you can find it in a doula.
2. You deserve support throughout the transition into parenthood.
Epidurals can’t be there for you when a doula can. Labor and delivery is very transformative, but so is pregnancy and postpartum life. A doula can help walk with you in each of those stages.
Even more specifically, keep in mind that epidurals are usually placed after someone enters active labor. Sometimes getting through early labor can be a bear, and as you wait for that epidural, your doula can help you figure out how to spend early labor (I work with my clients to help them spend it beautifully, meaningfully, and / or usefully; see this post for more info).
3. Epidurals don’t help you figure out when you want to get epidurals. But doulas can!
There can be some great reasons to delay getting an epidural. Doulas can help you understand your options and put your plan into effect.
But also, did you know that getting an epidural isn’t really a yes/no decision? There are steps to the process, and a doula can help you decide when to take each step.
(This is actually usually one of my favorite parts of doulaing for my clients who plan to get an epidural. Talking them through the pros and cons of different timings, holding space for them as they make their decision, and putting their plan for timing into action are really rewarding for me.)
4. You deserve to have a birth plan that involves more than just pain management,
because there’s more to birth than pain.
I think this is the biggest reason why epidurals and doulas pair so well together. The biggest value of epidurals, in my opinion, is that they can help people remember that: there’s more to birth than pain.
If pain is overwhelming for someone while giving birth, an epidural is a fantastic tool for helping them recenter themselves and be able to experience the beauty of the event.
But also, there are other aspects of birth where an epidural doesn’t solve potential problems: positioning so that body mechanics are favoring labor and delivery, giving partners ideas of how to support their loved ones in new and uncertain situations, making space for disappointment and excitement as the twists and turns of a birth unfold, walking with someone through decisions, and more. That’s what I get to do as a doula, whether someone has an epidural or not.
Basically, for a quite effective, very common medical pain management technique, look into epidurals. And for longlasting emotional support and creative companioning, add a doula.
Do you want to talk more about what having an epidural and a doula can look like for you? Reach out to me here!