There are many reasons that people choose to have an epidural. The biggest benefit of the epidural, is, of course, the effective pain relief than an epidural can provide. However, the course of a birth plan can change following the administration of an epidural. Some people think that doulas and epidurals are synonymous- but this misconception could not be further from the truth. A doula can effectively continue to support a client through the labor and birth process following an epidural. Read on to find out how.
1. Assisting with Positioning
You aren't able to walk following an epidural, but this doesn't mean that you can't utilize different laboring positions. Remember that you are still in labor with an epidural, even though you can't feel it! One of the most important skills that a doula brings to a table is her knowledge of positioning. Depending on where the baby is located in the pelvis, your doula can make recommendations for positions that will help bring the baby down. A peanut ball is an awesome tool that can be utilized for epidural clients. Something that many people don't know is that there are multiple laboring positions that require a peanut ball (beyond the classic between-the-knees position)- many of which are perfect for epidural clients.
2. Coaching Through Pushing
Pushing looks different with epidural births than with an unmedicated birth. Epidural clients need to be coached through labor versus unmedicated clients who largely follow the urge to push. Luckily, doulas are excellent coaches! One of my favorite aspects of my job is providing encouragement and words of affirmation to clients throughout the pushing stage. Having a doula assist with the pushing stage can also be a huge relief for partners.
3. Facilitating Skin-to-Skin
Immediate skin-to-skin contact following any type of birth is of utmost importance! However, sometimes babies are born drowsy following the use of an epidural. A doula can put a mom's mind at ease and provide her with suggestions to facilitate latching despite possible side effects.
Is an epidural a part of your birth plan? We'd love to chat with you about how we've successfully supported our epidural clients! Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have about epidurals.