First of all, this blog isn’t designed to scare anyone about epidurals. If a woman has researched epidurals and is willing to assume both the risks and benefits of an epidural, I (and any other doula interested in your happiness) will support their choice. For more reading regarding risks of epidurals, I highly recommend:
Most women are afraid of the pain during childbirth and feel they definitely want an epidural when the time comes. Below is a list of why having a doula is highly beneficial, even if narcotic medication is chosen.
01. An epidural can never hold your hand, mop your sweaty brow, bring you a warm rice sock, suggest position changes to facilitate labor, or support you and your partner emotionally and informationally.
02. Most women must labor for at least a time, before receiving an epidural. Epidurals are best received when a woman is in active labor (sometime between 4-6 cm dilation). Epidurals are not meant for use during early labor.. which means coping skills, information, and a doula are essential. IV fluids must be given before receiving an epidural (1-2 liters), in order to avoid life-threatening low blood pressure (an adverse effect of epidurals). Having a doula during the waiting period can help a woman to cope and progress.
03. Epidurals are not 100% effective. Some work wonderfully, others do not. Regardless of the pain control received, an epidural does not remove emotional and physical sensations that go along with labor.. such as fear, anxiety, confusion, nausea/and or vomiting, etc. You can read more at:
04. An anesthesiologist may not be readily available. If it’s a busy day on the labor and delivery ward, the anesthesiologist may be assisting other patients, or even in surgery. A doula will help you labor more comfortably until your consultation.
05. A doula can help a woman avoid or lessen the side effects of an epidural. Doulas are trained to assist with the pushing stage, which is very important as a woman laboring with an epidural will have greatly decreased sensation with pushing. The shaking, nausea, headache, cold, decreased sensation to push, fetal heart rate dips, etc. all can be avoided or lessened with the assistance and techniques of a doula.
06. Sometimes a woman labors so quickly that an epidural cannot be given. Again, a doula can help you to remain more comfortable and provide physical comfort measures and emotional reassurance.
07. Regardless of the choice to have medication for pain relief or not, having a doula at your birth reduces your chance of having a C-section (surgical birth) by 50%. This is well documented through numerous studies and research. For actual studies and citations, you can visit http://www.cappa.net or http://www.dona.org. This benefit alone is all the reason needed to have a doula at your birth!
08. After your birth, a doula can help you process the birth experience, assist with breastfeeding, new parenting tips, and suggest comfort measures for the postpartum period.
Know your options! It will make your decisions that much sweeter. Have the birth experience you deserve and desire.
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