Childbirth Education

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!

We Come to You! Private Prenatal Classes in Orange County

Now that the nausea and the newness of this pregnancy have subsided a bit, you're probably starting to think about what classes you want to take. There are so many options from childbirth preparation classes to breastfeeding classes to newborn care basics. The choices can be overwhelming an often times the dates or times offered don't fit into your busy schedule. 

Enter Doulas of Orange County and our private prenatal classes!

Picture this: You pre-select from a menu of topics to create a customized curriculum based on your needs and interests. You choose a time that works best with you and your husband's schedule. Prior to our visit, we send you a form to fill out that allows us to customize your private class to fit your learning style and your points of interest. We bring everything we need to guide you through an engaging, fun, and informative class in the comfort of your home.

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You sip a cup of hot tea as you settle into your comfortable couch while you learn all about birth, breastfeeding, and baby care. You and your partner explore various comfort measures like massage, breathing, and relaxation techniques. You try out some essential oils, some different positions for labor, and together we have honest conversations about fears, nerves, and anything else you want to chat about freely. When your private class comes to an end  finished, you feel calm and confident. You feel excited about your new knowledge and tools that will help you make informed decisions on this parenting journey. 

Informed, prepared and confident. Isn't that exactly how you want to feel as you welcome your baby into this world? We can help you get there. 

Do you have friends that are pregnant too? Wouldn't it be fun to put together a couples class in your home? Or maybe you want to invite your parents to your baby care class so they get a refresher on the basics! We can make it happen! Our customizable, professional, and private classes will meet you exactly where you're at. They are fun, practical, uncensored, and always judgment-free!

Here are just a glimpse at some of the most popular topics you can choose to include in your customized curriculums:

  • Birth 101: Local hospital options, recommended care providers, birth planning
  • Confident Birth: Stages of Labor, Hormones & Labor, Pain-Relief options (both natural and medicated), Comfort Measures, What to Expect, Interventions, Induction, and more!
  • Breastfeeding 101: Positions, What's Normal, Pumping, Overcoming Breastfeeding Hurdles
  • Baby Care Basics: Newborn Care, Swaddling, Soothing, Feeding, Bathing, Diapering
  • VBAC 101: Preparing With Confidence, Birth Options, Finding a Supportive Care Provider
  • Comfort Measures: Relaxation Techniques, Massage, Essential Oils, Rebozo
  • Grandparents Class: Refresher, Modern Parenting, How to Be the Greatest Grandparent!

    These classes are all about YOU and what you want to learn. Each class provides ample time for honest discussion and plenty of questions - remember there are no silly questions!

Ready to get started?! Visit our classes page to learn more about your options. For a full weekend with multiple classes or for group rates, please email us for a custom quote. 

The Marathon of Birth: Part 2, Active Labor

Welcome back to the Marathon of Birth, an overview of the stages of labor plus tips & tricks from your favorite Birth Doulas! If you haven't already done so, review Part 1: Early Labor to get a good understanding of how to manage that phase of labor. 

Remember that birth has 3 distinct stages: Labor, Pushing, & Birth of the Placenta. The first stage of labor is broken down into 3 parts: Early, Active, and Transition... I know, it's kind of confusing. Today, we'll share all about the Active Phase of labor to better prepare you for your own birth marathon. If you're interested in delving further into the stages of labor, we recommend registering for our Confident Birth series or Weekend Intensive, offered in group & private settings. 

If you recall, we compared Early Labor to the first few miles of the marathon where you're finding your stride and own unique rhythm. When active labor hits, you'll begin to tap into your instincts and all the mental and physical training you've accomplished in pregnancy. 

January Events at Doulas of Orange County

Now that the holidays are over, you may be feeling ready to tackle your birth classes and postpartum planning. Well, don't fret, Doulas of OC has all the best classes that are sure to bring you out of your holiday hangover and get you excited for the arrival of your baby. 

In addition to the popular classics like our 4-week Confident Birth series, Baby Care Basics, and Milk Mama 101, we have added a few new unique offerings to our 2018 calendar. With these new classes we seek to include the whole family in preparing for birth and postpartum. 

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The Greatest Grandparents

Becoming a Grandparent is an exciting time! It's been a long time since you've had a child and we know you want to be the best grandparent you can be. This private workshop will give a refresher on all the baby care basics - from diapering to swaddling to bottle-feeding and nap time.  We'll share up-to-date information regarding health and safety standards, along with the latest gear and gadgets.  You will learn all about today's birth choices, modern parenting and ways to support your child in their choices and bond with your grandchild.

Launching January 10th and held at our office in Irvine or the comfort of your own home!

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Confident Birth Weekend Intensive   

Added to our 2018 calendar by popular demand! You requested a weekend option for our popular Confident Birth childbirth education series and we answered!

This monthly class covers the same information as our 4-week series in a fun, engaging environment. Preparation is crucial for a positive, confident birth experience and this uncensored, unbiased class will do just that! 

Held every month, 9am-5pm in Irvine. Launches February 11th!

REGISTER ONLINE FOR A GROUP CLASS OR A PRIVATE CLASS!

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VBAC Preparation & Support

Planning a Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean requires lots of support, education, and preparation. Our team has put together two options to cheer you on in your VBAC birth choices with our private VBAC preparation consult

This workshop is designed to assist you in creating a strong vision for your birth as well as to educate you on your options, finding a supportive care provider, creating a strong birth support team, and more. The curriculum in this class will help you to build a plan to physically, mentally and emotionally prepare for your VBAC. We provide education and discussion on local and national resources, VBAC friendly care providers, and other wellness practitioners who can contribute to a positive pregnancy no matter how you choose to birth. Hosted by women with personal experience with VBACs as well as Doulas who are well-versed in supporting all births, we welcome you!

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DOC Open House

Join us on Saturday, January 20th as we celebrate the new year and our grand re-opening in Irvine! 

Refreshments, Raffles, Swag Bags, and Community. What more could you want?

Expecting parents, new parents, current clients, past clients, friends, and family are all welcome! We encourage you to pre-register online as well as pre-purchasing raffle tickets to save! Additional tickets are available for purchase at the event and 50% of the raffle proceeds benefit Postpartum Support International. 

We're still accepting sponsors, food vendors, & product giveaways to partner with us in making this an amazing event for OC families. If you're interested in collaborating with us, please visit our sponsorship page


A full list of all of our January & February events is listed on our website. Pre-registration for classes is always required. We look forward to seeing you at one of our classes or support groups soon!

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Surviving Prodromal Labor

Start. Stop. Start. Stop.

Contractions come consistently for 4 hours. Then nothing. You fall into a sleepy abyss of nothingness for a few hours before the contractions start up again. And again, they stop.

The next morning you have random and mild contractions. There's no pattern, no consistency, just annoying pain that lasts all day long. Sometime in the mid afternoon you nap and they go away.

Night time falls, the moon rises... they're back. Coming every 3 minutes. Your back and hips ache beyond belief. You're convinced this is it.

You call your doula. She comes to your home to support you but hours later, the contractions slow and eventually stop.

This is prodromal labor. And it is, (pardon my French), a total mind fuck. 

Some people call prodromal "false labor" but the reality is, there's nothing false about it. The contractions are real. What you're feeling is real. The mind games are real. Calling it false labor discounts what the laboring woman is feeling and can make her feel as if her body is broken or unable to dilate. This is simply not the case. 

The biggest challenge with prodromal labor is that while the contractions are real, they typically aren't strong enough or consistent enough to dilate your cervix, thus prolonging your labor and wearing you out in the process... physically, mentally and emotionally.

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So how do you avoid wearing yourself out?

Surviving prodromal labor requires a lot of support, so before you reach the end of your pregnancy, I recommend having a system in place in the event this is a part of your birth journey. 

Call Your Doula

This is why you hired her. She will provide emotional support to help you stay present and encouraged. Her expertise will help you determine if this is prodromal or early labor. She'll be able to give you tips on various positions or comfort measures that can help you stay relaxed. Don't be afraid to call her or ask for help. She is always there for you.

Re-Program Your Brain

So much of the labor game is mental. As you can imagine, days or weeks of start and stop contractions would discourage anyone. Build yourself up and get your mind right with affirmations. Print some out and put them all over your house, in every room. Repeat them out loud to reinforce their meaning and strength. 

Further, reframe your thoughts around prodromal labor by looking at it as a warm up or a rehearsal for the big day. Use this time to practice your breathing, relaxation and comfort measure techniques that you learned in childbirth class. Get your partner involved with some hands-on support to provide physical relief. 

Rest When You Can

Don't hate me. I know rest is what you crave and I know it can be hard to come by with prodromal labor. Find respite in the breaks and sleep when your body allows you to. If you can't sleep, keep the nighttime restful with gentle yoga, warm baths, meditation or something equally relaxing. Can't find a comfortable position? Check out Spinning Babies for supportive positions that encourage relaxation and more optimal positioning of your baby. 

Another option for rest is called "therapeutic rest." If your prodromal labor has prevented you from getting quality sleep for days or weeks, talk to your care provider about this option. Therapeutic rest involves medication such as Ambien or Nubain to relax your body and mind to get you to sleep. Often times therapeutic rest is the catalyst for kick starting your labor. 

Nourish Yourself

It's easy to be distracted by this annoying labor pattern, not to mention the discomfort or exhaustion may limit your appetite. But nutrition is just as important now as it is in active labor. Eat smaller, high protein meals to keep you fuller longer or try hydrating soups that will nourish your tired soul as well as your hard-working body. Stay hydrated with coconut water, fresh juice, electrolyte drinks or tea. 

Dig deeper into self-care and go get a relaxing massage or a pedicure. Not only do these promote relaxation, but certain acupressure points might move labor along. 

Be Gentle With Yourself

Ignore your contractions for a long as you can. Alternate rest and activity. Do normal things for as long as you feel comfortable and when your energy is tapped out, give yourself space to rest. Remember, your body is warming up and working hard, so give yourself grace and compassion. Know that you will not be pregnant forever and that in time this prodromal labor pattern will shift and your baby will come. 

Prodromal labor can be incredibly challenging and disheartening. But with the right frame of mind and the right support, you will get through it. Did you experience prodromal labor? Share about your experience below and tips on what worked!