About 60% of women receive epidural pain relief during labor in this country according to the CDC. It is a very common and completely valid choice. Why, if you decide to get drugs, would you also want to hire a doula? Aren't doulas just for "crunchy" types that want to go "all natural?" No. And here's why:
Doulas provide prenatal and postpartum support, in addition to support during labor.
Some assume the reason women hire doulas is because they want help achieving an unmedicated birth; however, many women who plan to take advantage of pain medications also want to take advantage of the services provided by a doula. Doula comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "woman who serves", and doulas offer a myriad of services. From personalized prenatal education, to continuous labor support, to help with breastfeeding and adjusting to caring for a newborn- they specialize in helping couples transition into the biggest roles of their lives. It's not just about natural pain coping techniques, though those may come in handy as well.
You may want to learn about alternative comfort measure options for use prior to receiving your epidural.
Most women are told they should leave for the hospital when their contractions are about five minutes apart, lasting about a minute, for at least an hour… and many don’t realize that this could come hours or days after the beginning of intense contractions. Some women find that even once they are admitted, there is a significant wait until their epidural is administered. Some women choose to try and labor as long as possible before asking for the epidural, for various reasons. Some miss the "window" for administration, sometimes the epidural works on just one side of the body, or just doesn’t work. In any case, the advice and support of a doula who is well versed in natural comfort measures can be extremely helpful to women experiencing these scenarios, even if their plan is to get the epidural as soon as they can.
A doula can help to improve your overall birth experience.
Birth is one of the most amazing and memorable experiences a woman will have in her lifetime. Just because a woman decides to use pain medication during labor does not mean her birth will be easy or routine. It still requires a LOT of time and energy to get that baby out, which is then rewarded with finally getting to meet the baby she’s been growing for over 9 months! Along the way there could be bumps in the road that a doula can help to navigate. A doula can provide information and suggestions to help labor progress, and the baby into an ideal position for birth. She can add little touches like white twinkle lights and flameless candles to help make the mother more comfortable and relaxed, which can encourage the release of hormones that move things along. She can also provide insight and encouraging words during the pushing stage, which can be difficult for a medicated mom who may not feel the urge to push, or know what to do. All these things set the stage for a smoother, more pleasant birth for both mama and baby- and there's only one chance at writing your baby's birth story.
Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you. Looking for doula support or lactation counseling in the Madison area? Contact me here.