doula oc

Doulas & Epidurals

One of the common misconceptions about doulas is that we only support natural, unmedicated birth. And while we absolutely provide valuable physical support for natural births, we also have an incredible amount of expertise and support for those who plan on getting an epidural. 

Have you ever thought about hiring a doula, but hesitated because getting an epidural was a part of your birth plan? Well, on today's blog we'll talk all about how doulas can assist and care for you during your unique (and pain-free!) birth. 

If you're here, you probably already know what a doula does... at least in theory. A doula is a trained birth assistant that is present at your birth to support you and your partner. That is the very foundation of what a doula does: SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT. And in such a way that helps empower you and build your confidence. As your doulas, we trust that you are an adult and can make the right decisions for you and your baby - and if that includes pain medication in labor - then we are all for it!  

Your doula meets with you prenatally to get to know you and learn more about your unique birth plan. It is during these meetings that you can explore your options for pain relief in childbirth and learn all about how your doula will be there for you throughout the entire process. If you have questions about the risks or benefits of epidurals as well as questions about the procedure itself, this is a great time to chat about all of that. We also highly recommend taking our Confident Birth childbirth class where we talk a lot about the various options for pain relief in labor: both natural and medicated. 

One of the things we talk about in this class is the WHY... why people choose epidurals in labor. 

It can be difficult to let go and surrender yourself to the physical changes happening in your body during labor. If your body is extremely tight or you aren't fully able to relax during contractions, it can potentially hinder cervical change making your labor longer and more intense. If this is the case an epidural can provide relief from the intensity, allowing your cervix and body to relax and open. For women with longer labors, an epidural can allow them time to rest and build up energy reserves as they approach the pushing stage. Some choose to have epidurals simply because they are fearful of the pain and have no desire to feel the contractions. The reasons are unique to each individual and there are many more than what we've listed here. 

For those that choose to have epidural pain relief, we want you to know that this is a choice we fully support and encourage you to talk to your doula or care provider about the specifics at your place of birth. Every hospital is different. Some hospitals want to ensure you're in active labor before administering an epidural and some won't give it to you after you're dilation reaches a certain point. Some hospitals allow your doula during the procedure, while others request that only your partner remains in the room. Knowing what to fully expect during this process can help put you at ease and make sure you're mentally and emotionally prepared. 

Once your epidural has been administered and you begin to feel the relief it provides, there are many ways your doula can continue to support you. 

Because you now must remain in bed, your doula will assist you in shifting from side to side for comfort and help support your body with pillows so you remain relaxed and are able to rest. It’s important to change position frequently to aid continued relief throughout your labor as well as to assist the baby in navigating the changing diameters of the pelvis. Your doula can utilize a peanut ball to keep the pelvic outlet open for your baby's descent. If your hospital doesn't have peanut balls, we recommend purchasing one as they are one of the best tools to use to prevent cesareans. 

Massage is another wonderful tool. Because your body and brain are no longer consumed with coping with the intensity of your contractions you can more easily move into a deeper state of relaxation. If you aren't sleeping your doula can massage your scalp, hands, hips and low back to keep you relaxed and help you stay present emotionally. She can also utilize other tools such as aromatherapy, guided meditation, and acupressure. We encourage as much rest as possible once you've received your epidural so you are fully energized when it comes time to push. 

Each doula is unique in her approach to supporting you through your epidural and will be by your side to get you through it. For more information about birth doula services, we invite you to schedule a time to chat with us. We'd love to hear about you and match you with a wonderful epidural-friendly doula!

Why a Judgment-Free Doula Matters

You'll here us talk about non-judgmental support A LOT in our work as doulas. This is the pillar on which our agency stands. But we're often asked, what does non-judmental support really mean? 

I remember the exact moment when I realized how important being a judgment-free doula was. I was at a baby shower chatting it up with some friends, including the guest of honor, the mama-to-be. Someone in the group asked if she had a birth plan. I saw her face fall as she looked directly at me, then looked quickly away. Her demeanor changed as she told us that she had already scheduled a repeat cesarean. 

Earlier in her pregnancy she had come to me asking about VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I remember gushing about how amazing VBACs were and how empowering they can be. I remember telling her that she should go for it! I recall side-stepping her fears about uterine rupture, explaining that they are a rarity and I recall dismissing her fears about going past her estimated due date and needing to be induced. I cringe now thinking about the assumptions I made and how I projected my personal beliefs onto her. 

It was there at that baby shower that she held a mirror up to my face. After sharing that she was choosing to have a cesarean, she shared that she was nervous to tell me. She was scared that I wasn't going to be supportive or that I would try to talk her into having a VBAC. 

My spirit was crushed.

I was mortified that my passion for supporting natural birth had come across as judgmental and that my words and actions had caused shame and fear. As a doula, I often touted myself as non-judgmental and while I intentionally never made anyone feel bad about their birth experience, it was at this baby shower that I began to wonder just how non-judgmental my support really was. 

Talk about a wake up call!

In that moment I made a decision that changed my approach as a doula. As I apologized to my friend for my judgments and for making her experience seem less than, I made a commitment to myself to do better and be better. I became a doula to make a positive impact on birth and the best way I know how to do that is to be open and unconditionally supportive of all choices. And it is that attitude that we look for in all the doulas we bring onto our team. 

Our support involves no judgment.

None. Nada.

zip. zilch.

completely, 100% Judgment free.

Your birth is yours and yours alone. Yes, there will be family, friends, care providers, and your doulas surrounding you with support and love. But it is your body and your baby, therefore the choices you make are yours. We vow not to project any certain agenda or philosophy onto your unique experience.

Our doulas offer a safe space to share your beliefs about birth and parenting, your fears, and your desires.  Together, you and your doula will create a birth and postpartum plan that encompasses all your needs. And while she is there to answer your questions and offer guidance, she trusts in your capacity to make the informed decisions that are right for you. Even if your plans change down the line, the non-judgmental support will continue. 

It is our belief that with the support of your judgment-free doula positivity will surround your pregnancy, birth, and parenting journey. It is our belief that in providing space to learn and make your own decisions you will find confidence. It is our believe that in being there 100%, no questions asked, you will find comfort and peace of mind. 

The birth of your baby will forever change you. This is your experience, and we will be by your side, no matter what. Your choices are yours, not ours. Your birth is yours, not ours. Your body is yours, not ours. Your baby is yours, not ours. What is ours is our desire and passion for spending this time with you, your partner and your family, offering unconditional support and care. And we offer it happily.