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Doulas & Epidurals

December 11, 2017

Because I had both of my children at home, I have never personally experienced what it’s like to have an epidural, and I have always felt that was a disadvantage to my services. I felt I needed to learn more about the procedure, and dive into how I can best support a mom and her partner through the process.

I decided to start with taking part in a webinar all about evidence based information on epidurals. I learned the ins and outs, the pro’s and the cons, and I learned that there are a lot of mixed reviews on the epidural and how it may affect mom and baby. I was also shocked to see that 80% of women opt for an epidural, but a far lesser percentage plan for one. This, to me all comes full circle to being informed, and feeling empowered to advocate for yourself.

As a mom who is choosing an epidural, you may think; I am already getting pain relief, why would I need someone to help coach me through the pain? When in fact, I feel opting for a epidural means you would benefit from the support of a doula even more so. Someone who can walk you through the procedure itself, help you understand what may happen, and what to expect in terms of side effects. If labor slows because of the epidural, a doula can move mom into a better position for progression, or attempt acupressure points to move things along.

In my last blog post, I reviewed an article released about a study on epidurals and their effects on prolonged labor. The article, and study were extremely misleading to the reader, which I feel is common place, often times hospital staff will suggest an epidural simply because it is the easiest way for them to aid a laboring mom, but they may not disclose all the facts about the epidural and its potential effects. A doula can ensure you are provided with the facts, and help you weigh your options before making your decision. We will respect and support your decision either way.

Studies have shown breastfeeding success may be lower with epidurals. There are many variables involved including the dose of the epidural, how the immediate postpartum period went etc. But because of this risk, a mom planning to breastfeed who receives an epidural may require that additional support postpartum to ensure breastfeeding is successful. Followed by continued support for prolonged breastfeeding success. A trained doula can provide all these things.

Lastly, there is a reduced trial happening in our city. A few of our local hospitals have initiated this trial November 1, with intentions to lower cesarean rates by admitting first time moms only once they’re in active labor. This means more first time moms may be asked to return home to labor further before being admitted. A mom being asked to labor further without the hospital’s assistance proves even further benefit for a doula as we can assist and comfort mom while she progresses. (If you have any questions about this reduced trial, feel free to contact me).

We have been lead to believe that a doula is only for natural home births, when in truth, we are so beneficial for hospital births as well. Choosing a doula that best suits your needs, regardless of your location, or use of medication is so important. I believe doulas & epiduralsgo hand in hand.