Many expectant mothers ask the question, “If I’m having an epidural, why do I need a doula?” Well, there are several reasons, let me explain.
You will not get the epidural at home or even as soon as you get to the hospital. Most hospitals will not admit you until you are in an active labor pattern and making change in your cervix. This can look different for each mother. But no matter what, it means that you are going to be laboring at home for a few (or perhaps many) hours. Your doula can help you cope during this time. When you arrive at the hospital, you will first go to Triage where you will be assessed to see if you are “really” in labor, then you will be admitted and asked a multitude of questions, you will have an IV inserted, you will usually have IV fluids administered, and THEN you may get the epidural – all of this can take 1-2 hours from the time you arrive at the hospital. You will be experiencing labor contractions during this time, and again, your doula can help you cope.
The epidural doesn’t always take away all the discomfort. Sometimes even with the epidural, you will still feel pressure, or even some pain. On rare occasions the epidural only works on one side or leaves “hot spots” – areas in which the pain is not taken away. In these cases, you are going to need someone to help you with relaxation and focus to cope with the discomfort. This is when you really want a doula.
You will still have other needs for comfort and assistance. If you have an epidural during labor, you will still need help. Your mouth may get dry, so you may want help with drinks or ice chips and will want someone to remember to get your lip balm for you every once in a while. You will likely experience temperature changes and appreciate someone to hold cool, wet washcloths on your face and neck when you’re hot or get an extra blanket when you’re cold. You will also need help with position changes during labor because you won’t be able to move much on your own with the epidural. And when it’s time to push, you will probably need someone to help hold your legs (they will be fairly numb) so you can be in the most effective pushing position with an epidural. The doula will not only do all of these things, but sometimes she’s the only one who remembers some of these seemingly mundane tasks.
Your partner will need someone to relieve him or her. Even the most dedicated, attentive partner is going to need to step away from a laboring mom at some point to take care of personal needs or, during a longer labor, to eat and drink. The doula is there to make sure that the partner or support person is taking care of himself or herself. The last thing the doula, and especially the mom, wants is to see a partner who hasn’t eaten faint during the birth.
You may want help translating medical terms or getting all the information you need. Whether you’re planning a low intervention, natural birth or a typical medicated birth, the question of whether to utilize medical procedures will likely present itself. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what the procedure is, how it will affect your baby or the progress of your labor, or if you have other options. Your doula can help you ask the right questions and, if necessary, translate any confusing medical terms because she has been trained and is experienced in birth practices. That way you can get all the necessary information to make the best decisions for you and your baby.
You will still need emotional support. Although you may not be feeling pain, you will still have emotional needs and concerns. This is a major transformative event in your life and there is a lot changing in your world. And for some, you may be becoming a mother for the first time. You may have questions about the process, you may have concerns about whether everything is going as it should, you may simply need to talk to someone who’s “been there, done that.” And your doula is there to listen, inform, reassure, and provide comfort and support. This is where the doula truly “mothers the mother.”
Your doula can help during the time immediately after the birth. In the first hour or so after the baby is born, you will probably want to spend some quality time with just you and your partner getting to know your baby. Your doula is the perfect person to help you do this. She can help you ensure that you are able to keep baby skin to skin. She can inform friends and relatives about the birth and reassure them that they will be able to meet baby soon. And probably most importantly, she can help you with the baby’s first meal. And the doula can do this all discreetly, allowing you to savor these precious first moments with your baby. As you can see, there are many benefits to having a doula when you have an epidural. Don’t give birth without one!
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers–strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”
— Barbara Katz Rothman
What I witness most often and care deeply about is that first experience a mother has of falling madly in love with the new little person she holds in her arms for the very first time. And it is part of my job to help make sure those early moments are protected.read more
“Advocacy includes action taken in support of a cause or an idea. It may include, for example, providing education, distributing information, or holding events to dramatize an issue or the effect of a problem on people or a community.” (Worth, 2009) Even though we are...read more
“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking out new lands, but in having a new vision.”