How getting an epidural is like making cookies

Doulas and epidurals are like peanut butter and chocolate.
I love them together.

This is part 2 of a series on epidurals. You can read part 1 here.

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

In this post, I want to tell you about what the hardest part of getting an epidural is for a majority of my clients.

It’s the waiting.

There’s generally quite a chunk of time between when someone decides they want an epidural and when they actually get the epidural. This is time that it takes to prepare for the epidural. Sometimes that time is even longer because the anesthesiologist is in a surgery.

And often, there’s something really difficult about that time. I think sometimes people’s mental stamina feels a lot lower suddenly because they know that some pain relief is on the way, but they aren’t experiencing it yet.

It’s like when you’re making cookies, and you can smell them in the oven, and they smell SO GOOD, but you know you can’t have them yet.

And then you take them out and you still have to wait even though they’re right there, because you will burn yourself on melted chocolate if you don’t (not that I’m speaking from personal experience).

Waiting is hard, and waiting when you’re uncomfortable or in pain and there’s a hope of great relief soon is even harder.

That time, between deciding to get an epidural and actually getting it, can look different for everyone. An attentive partner and/or an awesome doula will attune to what you need in that moment. But even so, you can still prepare for that moment. If you’re planning to get an epidural or think you might get an epidural at some point in labor, I encourage you to think about what you want to do with the time when you’re waiting for it.

Here are three ideas to jump start your planning:

  1. Walk as much as possible. Though there are a ton of positions that are awesome to do with epidurals, walking is one that is a lot more difficult, if not impossible. So get your steps in before the epidural comes!
  2. Labor in the shower or the tub. While you can still do hydrotherapy after getting an epidural, those bigger tools may be off limits.
  3. Eat. Some providers are uncomfortable with you eating anything that isn’t clear, or solids more generally, after getting an epidural. (This article gives a helpful rundown on the history of this recommendation and whether it’s backed up scientifically – spoiler alert: for low-risk patients, it isn’t, and for high-risk patients, we aren’t sure.)

Want to come up with more, and more personalized, ideas? Book a birth planning consult with me here!

Photo by Olivia Herlambang-Tham on Unsplash

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