Why an Epidural Isn’t a Birth Fail

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Seems like the most popular stuff on the blog this month is the stuff about NOT SO NATURAL birth... I guess we all know us doulas are pretty great at the all natural birth thing. Maybe we haven’t become the hospital rockstars in everyone’s eyes yet. That’s ok- we’ll get there.

So what about a mom who wants pain relief in the form of an epidural? Is a doula still a good option for her? Yep- we sure are. I have seen some AWESOME success with epidurals sparing many unnecessary cesareans in my young doula career- and letting moms rest and get some peace after long labors. Sometimes in my (probably unpopular) opinion, the epidural saves the day... So here’s some info on epidurals- what you might not know, and why they can be great!

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What is an Epidural? 

An epidural block (sometimes referred to as “an epidural”) is the most common type of pain relief used for childbirth in the United States. In an epidural block, medication is given through a tube placed in the lower back. For labor and vaginal delivery, a combination of analgesics and anesthetics may be used. You will have some loss of feeling in the lower areas of your body, but you remain awake and alert. You should be able to bear down and push your baby through the birth canal. For a cesarean delivery, the dose of anesthetic may be increased. This causes loss of sensation in the lower half of your body.

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Do I need a doula if I have an epidural?

While an epidural can relieve pain, it doesn’t provide support in the way that a doula provides support. Here are some of the things that a doula can do for a mother who would like to use an epidural as a tool for pain relief in her labor.

  • Labor support at home and prior to hospital arrival- doulas can be a great way to build extra confidence and give comfort while you are still at home until it’s time to go to the hospital.

  • Comfort measures- though an epidural relieves pain during labor, you may need support with other things during this time to be most comfortable. This may include massage, positioning (yes- there are more positions than one when you have an epidural! Positioning with Peanut Balls is my favorite!), counter pressure with back labor, keeping you warm (or cool), helping with nausea and more. Basically a doula will help you stay calm before during and after an epidural.

  • Relieving Anxious Feelings- a doulas emotional and informational support is still helpful especially when there are concerns during the labor process. Having a doula by your side helps your decision making easier and more informed while keeping you calm, cool and collected. This allows you to focus on your birth- not the what-if’s.

  • Immediate Postpartum Help- after baby is born, a doula can help ensure you have skin to skin time with baby and help initiate breastfeeding (if that is the infant feeding method of choice). A doula is also helpful to help “referee” the incoming family and friends after birth to help you, your partner and your new baby bond and rest after birth.

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Bottom Line:  

Epidurals are NOT a birth fail. In addition to pain relief, they provide time for mom to rest, and sometimes are the difference between vaginal delivery and cesarean. They work very well for many women going through long labors or in the case of a swollen cervix! There are MANY other reasons why the epidural can be a great birth tool. There is truly no shame in the epidural game when it comes to birth. Want more info? Check out the links below or contact me today!

Leah

leah@doulainmississippi.com

For more info:  

 http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/epidural/

 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279567/

 https://m.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Medications-for-Pain-Relief-During-Labor-and-Delivery